Utah again ranks No. 2 nationally for job creation, while unemployment rate is at low 2.9%

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Workers at Salt Lake International Airport watch a "topping off" ceremony at a new concourse in March. The airport's rebuilding project has it difficult to hire all the workers it seeks. Utah's unemployment is at a low 2.9%, and the state is No. 2 in the nation for creating jobs.

As Utah’s economy continues to flourish, it again ranked No. 2 among the states for job growth in the yearlong period ending April 30, according to federal data released Friday.

The number of jobs in the state grew by 3% in that period, behind only Nevada’s 3.6% growth, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Utah’s combination of strong job growth and markedly low unemployment mirrors the robust economic climate last seen in 2007,” said Mark Knold, senior economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

He added that it may offer a great gift to students now graduating.

“Given these conditions," he said, “this is the most favorable Utah job market in 12 years for college and high school graduates to be seeking employment.”

Utah added 45,600 jobs in the 12-month period ending April 30, according to the new federal data. It said 1.55 million people were employed in the state.

All 10 of the private sector industry groups in Utah measured by government surveys posted net job increases in April.

The largest private sector employment increases were in leisure and hospitality (9,000 jobs); trade, transportation and utilities (7,900 jobs); and education and health services (6,900 jobs). The fastest employment growth occurred in information (6.2%); leisure and hospitality (6%); and manufacturing (4.6%).

Also, new federal data showed that Utah’s unemployment rate in April was 2.9%, well below the national average of 3.6%.

Vermont had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.2%, while Alaska had the highest at 6.5%.

Utah’s unemployment rate is so low that many employers have said it is difficult to find workers.

For example, this week Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City International Airport, told its advisory board that the $3.6 billion project to rebuild the facility would love to hire more construction workers but simply cannot find them. “I have been struck by how challenging the labor market is.”