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Department of Workforce Services issues Utah’s May employment summary

By Ashtyn Asay - Daily Herald | Jun 17, 2022

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

The Utah Department of Workforce Services' Administrative Offices stands Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Salt Lake City.

The Department of Workforce Services released Utah’s employment summary for May on Friday, showing an increase in new jobs statewide as well as a slight uptick in unemployment.

According to the summary, which uses statistics generated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and modeled by monthly surveys, Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for May increased an estimated 3.5% over the past year. With an added 55,500 jobs since May 2021, Utah’s job count currently stands at 1,662,300.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is at 2.0% with approximately 34,100 Utahans unemployed. This is a 0.1% increase when compared to April’s unemployment rate of 1.9%. According to Jared Mendenhall, public information officer for the Department of Workforce Services, this minor increase is likely because more people are entering the job market after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reason that an unemployment rate may rise is that people are losing their jobs, or people from the sidelines are coming in,” Mendenhall said. “As a general rule, nobody in the state of Utah is losing their job right now. … We’re starting to see people that had left the labor force and gone off to the sidelines during the pandemic, they’re starting to return.”

As to why people may be returning to the labor force after leaving it, Mendenhall listed a few possible reasons.

“Some of that may be because they’re more comfortable with the state of the pandemic (or) it may be that wages have risen enough that they can’t not get on that gravy train,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of inflation … so some people who have been sitting on the sidelines and someone else in the household was covering all the bills may now be looking at what everything costs and decided that it’s better to go back and get that job again.”

Utah’s unemployment rate remains below the May national average of 3.6%.

“Two percent unemployment is ridiculously low; that’s as low as it ever goes,” Mendenhall said. “So there’s not an unemployment problem in Utah, but we’re starting to see that tick up as people are coming into the labor force.”

In May, Utah’s private sector employment recorded a year-over-year expansion of 3.7%, a 50,100 job increase. Out of Utah’s 10 major private sector industry groups, eight posted net job gains.

The largest private-sector gains in the past year:

  • Trade, transportation and utilities: 11,100 jobs.
  • Leisure and hospitality: 10,800 jobs.
  • Construction: 8,100 jobs.
  • Education and health services: 7,500 jobs.

The largest private sector losses during the past year:

  • Professional and business services: -500 jobs.
  • Financial activities: -400 jobs.

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