Utah’s unemployment rate dips again, to 2.6%, second lowest in the U.S.

Despite reports of labor shortages, the state’s economy has “grown significantly” as commerce returns to pre-COVID levels.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Workers put up a now hiring sign at Burlington in Murray on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Utah's unemployment rate fell to 2.6% in July, second lowest in the county amid signs of continued economic improvement.

Utah’s economy continued to outperform the rest of the country with unemployment at 2.6% in July, compared to 5.4% for the U.S. as a whole.

That gave the Beehive State the second lowest jobless rate of any state — just behind Nebraska at 2.3% — and below June’s 2.7%, according to the Labor Department. Hospitality-heavy Nevada had the nation’s highest rate last month, at 7.7%, followed by California, New Mexico and New York, each with rates of 7.6%.

The latest unemployment report also kept up Utah’s unbroken stretch of monthly improvements in its job markets since mid-2020 as it continues to recover more sharply than many other states from the pandemic downturn. Current employment in Utah is now at 1.6 million, and the state has added a total of 65,100 jobs since July 2019.

Despite reports of some employers recently having difficulty filling available jobs this summer, Utah’s economy has grown significantly over the past three months, according to Mark Knold, chief economist for the state Department of Workforce Services, after overall commerce reverted to pre-COVID-19 levels in late spring.

Private-sector employment — which excludes government jobs — is now up 5.2% in Utah over its level in July 2019. Seven of the state’s top 10 private industry groups now boast more employment than two years ago and the three laggards — leisure and hospitality, natural resources, and information technology — are only a few thousands of jobs behind their 2019 levels, new figures show.

In Utah, the past seven weeks have seen the number of Utahns filing ongoing state unemployment claims drop from just under 20,000 per week to 8,683.

Nationwide, the number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to 348,000, according to the Labor Department, its lowest level since March 14, 2020, and the initial onset of economic effects from COVID-19.