Achieving the nation’s lowest unemployment rate last month apparently wasn’t enough for the Salt Lake metro area. Like a good limbo dancer, it just showed it could go even lower.
Its unemployment rate is now 1.9%, a shade lower than the 2.0% reported a month earlier, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That rate for October, for the second straight month, is the lowest in the nation for large metro areas with at least 1 million people.
In comparison, the national unemployment rate in October was 3.3%.
The agency estimates that only 12,442 people out of the nearly 700,000 workers in the Salt Lake metro area are unemployed and actively seeking a job.
Mark Knold, chief economist at the Utah Department of Workforce Services, noted last month when the area’s unemployment rate first became the lowest in the nation that it comes after five years of above-average job growth in the state.
He noted that puts workers in a good position to either find employment or a better job. But he said competition for jobs has led to higher wages here only recently, in the past two or three years.
Knold also said the low unemployment here has led to more in-migration from outsiders seeking work.
“About 2016, we were thinking we had reemployed the local population that had been displaced because of the Great Recession,” he said last month. “We were thinking if we’re going to keep up with the average to above-average growth, it’s going to have to come from in-migration from out of the state. And that’s what’s happened.”
Some smaller metro areas in Utah had even lower unemployment rates for October: 1.5% in Logan, 1.7% in Provo-Orem and 1.8% in Ogden-Clearfield. The rate in St. George was slightly higher at 2.1%.
Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 240 of the 389 metro areas in the nation. It was higher in 121 areas, and unchanged in 28.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also released data Wednesday about job growth in metro areas.
In the 12-month period ending Oct. 31, it said the number of new jobs grew in the Salt Lake metro area by 2.6%, or 19,300 jobs.
Elsewhere in the state, Ogden-Clearfield was up 4.3%, or 11,500 jobs; Provo-Orem saw 3.3% growth, up by 9,000 jobs; St. George was up 3%, or 2,100 jobs; and Logan was up by 2.8%, or 1,800 jobs.