As Utah tops nation in job growth, Southern Utah exceeds state average

Stock image | Photo by Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — No stranger to the No. 1 spot, Utah has again topped the nation in percentage of overall employment growth. And as the state’s employment roster grows, the majority of Southern Utah exceeds the state average in job growth.

Graphic compares unemployment and job growth rates of Utah versus the U.S. average | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, St. George News

According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the state’s nonfarm payroll employment for July grew by an estimated 3.9 percent, adding 57,100 jobs to the economy since July 2017 and topping the national average growth rate of 1.7 percent.

“That’s actually the highest number of jobs for 2018,” Department of Workforce Services Chief Economist Carrie Mayne said of the monthly numbers.

The state also ranks relatively low in unemployment, standing at 3.1 percent versus the national average of 3.9 percent.

“Utah experienced yet another month of significant growth in the job market,” Mayne said. “Fueled by robust economic conditions, the state added the highest number of jobs year-over for 2018 while maintaining a notably low unemployment rate.”

Read more: As job growth soars, Utah consistently ranks in top 5 states for business 

The largest private sector employment increases were in trade, transportation and utilities at 14,100 jobs. Other sectors of high growth occurred in education and health services at an increase of 7,700 jobs and leisure and hospitality at 7,400 jobs.

Data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows year-over percentage change for nonfarm jobs from July 2017-July 2018 | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, St. George News

Mayne said the increase in leisure and hospitality jobs means more Utahns have disposable income to spend on retail, hotels and eating out, while education and health services are driven by population growth.

“One of the benefits of having such a diverse economy as we have in Utah is that we have a lot of different types of jobs at different skill levels that are in demand,” Mayne said.

“We really can cater to the new entrant into the workforce, be it a teenager who’s looking for their first job or an adult who hasn’t been in the workforce,” she said. “There are also opportunities for people who are highly skilled and well-trained. … It’s an excellent time for all types of job-seekers.”

Southern Utah

Between July 2017 and July 2018, Washington County added close to 5,000 jobs, ranking its growth rate among the highest in the state at 7.2 percent.

Graphic charts job growth in Washington County | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, St. George News

Mirroring the rest of the state, the areas of highest growth in the St. George metropolitan area were in trade, transportation and utilities at 7.5 percent growth, leisure and hospitality at 6.5 percent and education and health services at 5.5 percent.

In its most recent analysis of Washington County’s economy, the Department of Workforce Services says all of this continued growth is likely to put “upward pressure” on wages, which are currently, on average, below the rest of the state.

The latest data show unemployment in Washington County at 3.4 percent, which the Department of Workforce Services says translates to a smaller, manageable number of unemployment insurance claims.

In Iron County, job growth has also remained high and above the state average at 5.1 percent year-over-year with nearly 900 jobs added.

The highest areas of growth in Iron County have been in construction, manufacturing, education and health services and leisure and hospitality.

The Department of Workforce Services says the county’s “rapid job growth” has translated to a low unemployment rate, which currently stands at 3.6 percent.

“All things considered, there’s little to complain about in Iron County’s economy,” the department said in a County Snapshot analysis.

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