Utah’s economy should remain strong over the summer, report says


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Beehive State’s economy is in good shape as the door closes on spring and opens into the summer months ahead.

“The overall fate of the Utah economy is beholden to the performance of the national economy. It takes big national downturns to knock the Utah economy off track,” said Mark Knold, Utah Department of Workforce Services’ chief economist. “Conversely, it doesn’t take much of a push from the national economy to get the Utah economy moving again in a strong way.”

The Utah Department of Workforce Services’ April employment summary shows that the state’s nonfarm payroll employment for April increased an estimated 2.6% over the past year, with Utah’s economy adding a cumulative 43,800 jobs over the same time span.

“For perspective, that would be enough new workers to fill the Delta Center in downtown Salt Lake City, twice,” Knold said.

The report also shows April’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is estimated at 2.3%, with approximately 41,300 Utahns unemployed — a slight improvement from the 41,700 unemployed Utahns noted in the March employment report. April’s national unemployment rate moved down one notch to 3.4%.

Knold noted that the labor force participation rate is higher now than it was before the pandemic.

“That speaks to the wide-open door of job opportunities,” Knold said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 78% of the new jobs in the state have developed in the four major counties along the Wasatch Front — Weber, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties — and the remaining 22% are distributed throughout the state’s other 25 counties.

“Those gains are actually leaning toward the other 25 counties somewhat,” Knold said. “The four Wasatch Front counties make up nearly 80% of all employment, so one would expect it would get 80% of the new jobs also, but not quite. … Therefore, the state’s job growth is tilting a bit towards the peripheral counties.”

If the United States economy can stay out of the Utah economy’s way, then Utah will keep flourishing in the near term.

–Mark Knold, Utah Department of Workforce Services

Additionally, different employment sectors haven’t performed the same over time, another factor that impacts the collective of Utah’s economy. Knold said that over the past year, only the financial activities sector of Utah’s economy has lost jobs — around 1,800.

This, he said, can be attributed to an increase in interest and mortgage rates over the past year, leading to a downtick in real estate activity and transactions and, by extension, any other financial actions that support the real estate business.

“As to the other industry sectors in Utah, they have all added new jobs over the past 12 months … and that speaks to the overall health of the Utah economy,” Knold said.

It’s the private sector that Knold said is “make or break” for the economy.

Currently, 85% of all employment in Utah is in the private sector, just slightly above the national average of 84.3%. This means that Utah’s economy is “generally normal” when it comes to private-public segmentation.

What it really comes down to for the state’s economy, Knold said, is dependent on what happens at the national level.

“If the United States economy can stay out of the Utah economy’s way, then Utah will keep flourishing in the near term,” Knold said. “If the economy is to experience that weakening that the federal reserve still has in its sights, we should start to see signals as such as we move into the fall and winter seasons — but those are yet to be seen.”

April’s full employment summary can be found on the Utah Department of Workforce Services website.

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Logan Stefanich is a reporter with KSL.com, covering southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.

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