Utah ties for its lowest unemployment rate ever

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) A job fair hosted by Catholic Community Services at the Weigand Center in Salt Lake City on Aug. 21, 2018. Utah's jobless rate just tied for its all-time low.

Merry Christmas, Utah: The state just tied for its lowest unemployment rate ever at 2.4% in November, according to data released Friday.

Utah hit that low rate only once previously, in 2007 not long before the Great Recession hit, according to the state Department of Workforce Services.

That comes as Utah also ranked No. 1 in the nation for its rate of adding jobs over the past 12 months, up 3.2%, after seasonal adjustments, more than double the national average of 1.5%.

“Utah’s unemployment rate has fallen by four-tenths of a percentage point over the past four months,” said Mark Knold, chief economist at Workforce Services.

“Rapid declines in such a low unemployment environment point to an economy running at full steam,” he said. “Employment opportunities are plentiful.”

Data released by the state and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show Utah’s already low unemployment rate dipped by one-tenth of a percent in November, from 2.5% to 2.4%. About 39,200 Utahns were unemployed and actively seeking a job during that month.

While that ties an all-time record for Utah, the state still ranked No. 2 nationally for unemployment in November — just behind Vermont’s rate of 2.3%. Alaska had the highest jobless rate at 6.1%.

Unemployment rates were lower in November in seven states, higher in five and stable in 38. The new data also say that Utah added 51,600 nonfarm payroll jobs between November 2018 and November 2019.

Utah’s growth rate of 3.2%, seasonally adjusted, led the nation, followed by Idaho and Texas at 2.7% each. Only Wyoming and Oklahoma saw jobs decrease in that period.

All of the major industry groups measured by Utah data posted job increases over the past 12 months.

By growth rate, Utah’s largest increases were in construction, 9.1%; education and health services, 6.0%; leisure and hospitality services, 4.3%; and natural resources, 4.2%.

By actual number of jobs added over that year, the biggest increases came in education and health services, 12,500; construction, 9,500; and both leisure/hospitality services and professional/business services, 6,300 each.

Job growth varied in Utah’s counties.

By percentage, the biggest job growth over the past 12 months was in Wasatch County, up 9.8%; Rich, 8.7%; Iron, 5.1%; and Garfield. 4.7%.

Three counties lost jobs: Beaver, down 3.8%; Sevier dropped 0.6%; and Wayne dipped 0.1%.

By actual number of jobs, the biggest increases were in Salt Lake County, up 19,257; Utah County, up 6,711; Davis County, 3,382; Weber County, 3,371; and Washington County, 2,334.