Utah's strong job market began taking shape decades ago
Utah's unemployment rate remains among the nation's lowest — a distinction that goes back decades.
Driving the news: New federal unemployment figures for June show Utah had the third-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.
- Just 2% of the state's workers were unemployed, same as in May and just barely up from April's all-time record low of 1.9%.
The big picture: Utah's unemployment rate is almost always below the national average, and has been since state data became available in 1976.
- It's only risen above national rates twice since then: for a few months in 1987 and again briefly in 2002.
- Other economic indicators — job growth and personal income growth — also are consistently better than average in Utah, said Natalie Gochnour, associate dean of the U's business school.
Context: Utah has a "growth economy," Gochnour said — but a rising population isn't the only reason for that.
- Utah has a lot of economic diversity, which protects it from ups and downs in individual industries.
- Some other fast-growing states are more reliant on single industries — like energy in Wyoming and Texas or tourism in Nevada.
Zoom in: The rise of Utah's tech sector was a particularly stabilizing force as Utah entered the pandemic, Gochnour noted.
- From 2008-2018, when other states were recovering from recession, Utah saw its tech employment grow at more than four times the national average.
- In 2019, Utah led the nation in job growth.
Flashback: Utah began laying the groundwork for that growth in tech even earlier than that.
- The state's colleges and universities doubled the number of graduates in engineering and computer science from 2001-2011, Gochnour said.
Bottom line: Utah's consistently healthy job market is also supported by a few lucky breaks, like a young population and good location.
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