‘The Rundown’: How difficult is it for Utah businesses to find workers?

A new report says Utah has nearly three job openings for every unemployed person

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Good Monday morning Utah! Thanks for reading “The Rundown.”

How difficult is it for Utah businesses to find workers?

Utah leaders like to brag about the state’s low unemployment rate, which currently sits at just 2.4%. That’s the second-lowest in the country, just behind Nebraska.

Despite that low number, Utah’s labor shortage is one of the most acute in the country, according to a report from Pew Stateline.

For every unemployed person in Utah, there are 2.8 job openings. Only Nebraska is higher with three openings per unemployed person.

What is going on?

The report says most of the labor shortages are in sectors with low pay and high public contact. Many workers don’t want to take those positions in the middle of a pandemic. Workers are less willing to tolerate low pay and irregular hours. Businesses that rely on low wages and unpredictable work schedules are the most vulnerable to changes in the economy.

In May, Gov. Spencer Cox joined several other states in ending enhanced unemployment benefits early to get people back to work. The high ratio of job openings to unemployed people suggests that tactic had a limited effect.

Experts say other factors like child care concerns and workers taking early retirement contribute to the labor shortage. Additionally, restrictive immigration policies have put a huge crimp in the labor supply.

Mary Daly, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco says Americans want to work, but it’s going to take the pandemic subsiding before they come off the labor sidelines.

The pandemic situation should improve now the COVID-19 vaccine is available for most school-aged children. Still, it’s a good bet the tight labor market will continue for several months before reversing.

Here’s what you need to know for Monday morning


😡 Utah legislative leaders and Better Boundaries are accusing each other of operating in bad faith during the just-completed redistricting process. [Tribune]

🏛 Utah lawmakers approved new political maps for the next ten years. Here’s why a lot of people are upset. [Tribune]

🏛 What lawmakers sent to Gov. Cox’s desk during last week’s special session. [Tribune]

🗳 A new poll shows Utahns who used ranked-choice voting in this year’s elections overwhelmingly approve of the system. Robert Gehrke says backers of RCV hope that convinces lawmakers to expand the program. [Tribune]

➡️ The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress delivers big time for the state’s water needs. [Tribune]

🤦‍♂️ Rep. Chris Stewart’s tweet criticizing President Joe Biden’s “build back better” spending plan inadvertently makes a pretty good case for the bill. [HuffPo]

➡️ The Davis School District will investigate the bullying of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor that led to her suicide. Gov. Cox will also meet with district officials about the tragedy. [Tribune]


⚖️ Steve Bannon is expected to turn himself into law enforcement today after a federal grand jury indicted him for contempt of Congress. [CBS News]

  • Republicans in Congress are warning of payback against Democrats and President Biden if they take control in 2022. [WaPo]

🏛 The House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is expected to refer former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for criminal contempt for ignoring a subpoena. [CNN]

  • Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso refused to condemn former President Donald Trump for defending the mob of his supporters who chanted “hang Mike Pence” during the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. [ABC News]

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell wanted to disinvite Trump from Biden’s inauguration in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 attack. [Politico]

☎️ President Biden holds a virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday. [AP]

📈 Yikes! President Biden’s job approval rating drops to 41% in a new poll. Just 39% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling the economy. [WaPo]

🚧 President Biden taps former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to oversee the distribution of funds from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. [NYT]

🗳 Republicans have added enough safe seats through redistricting they could retake control of the House on that factor alone in next year’s midterm elections. [NYT]

💵 Former President Trump is selling his prized Washington, D.C. hotel for $375 million. [NYT]

⚖️ The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial begins deliberations this week. The judge says the jury can consider lesser charges against the 18-year-old. [WaPo]

🚨 Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn called for Christianity to become the only religion in the U.S. [Insider]

➡️ Some anti-vaxxers who give in and get the COVID shot are bathing in borax to “undo” the vaccine. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work. [NBC News]

Monday morning’s Utah headlines


  • Can ‘controlled’ burns save Utah’s national forests? [Tribune]

  • What happened to Kim Crumbo? [Tribune]

  • Most sexual assault cases in Salt Lake, Utah counties stall in police departments. New research explains why. [Tribune]

  • The future of this historic LDS chapel is unknown, and community members hope for its revival. [Tribune]

  • Man who was arrested following West Valley City standoff allegedly tortured hostage. [Tribune]

  • Space pollution may soon give Earth its own rings. Has Utah team found a solution in magnets? [Tribune]

  • Weber County’s GOP lawmakers laud U.S. House redistricting plan. [Standard-Examiner]

  • Previous refugees reach out to new Afghan refugees in Utah. [Fox 13]


  • Utah’s COVID-19 hospitalizations higher now than before last year’s peak. [Tribune]

  • Another 22 Utahns have died from COVID-19. [Tribune]

  • Utah ‘not in a good place’ as COVID-19 cases remain among the nation’s highest. [Deseret News]


  • This high school dropped an ethnic studies class. Here’s why students are upset. [Tribune]


  • Here’s one cynical argument in support of Utah’s congressional map, George Pyle writes. [Tribune]

  • Don Gale: Tribune should keep a Utah Legislature anti-democracy scoreboard. [Tribune]

  • Opinion: I believe state lawmakers are best qualified to redraw Utah’s political maps. [Deseret News]