ST. GEORGE — A small uptick in unemployment in Southern Utah and the state as a whole is offset by the fact that employers are continuing to add jobs at a breakneck pace.
The latest data provided by the Utah Department of Workforce Services show the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.2 percent from August to September.
During the same period in Southern Utah, unemployment also went up one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.5 percent in Washington County. Iron County’s unemployment rate remained steady at 3.6 percent.
Utah’s overall unemployment rate still ranks below the national average of 3.7 percent.
“We’re confident that the increase in unemployment is not a sign of any weaknesses necessarily in our economy,” said Carrie Mayne, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services.
Mayne said no solid conclusions can be drawn from the small uptick, explaining that officials would need to see an upward trend over a period of several months to explain the increase as anything other than the normal ebb and flow of the economy.
“There’s nothing to be concerned about at this point in time,” Mayne said.
“Despite the fact that our unemployment rate ticked up, looking at our job growth numbers, we know that employers are adding jobs,” she said. “And so there’s opportunity for these job-seekers to get employment.”
Indeed, jobs continue to be added in Utah at a rate much higher than the national average. With a year-over growth rate of 3.6 percent in September for nonfarm jobs, Utah continues to be among the top-performing states for employment growth.
“The latest job market statistics indicate that our state continues to ride the momentum of healthy expansion,” Mayne said, noting that private sector job growth was even higher than overall growth at 3.8 percent.
Nine of the 10 private sector industry groups measured by the Department of Workforce Services posted net job increases in September. The sectors with the largest increases in terms of numbers are as follows:
- Trade, transportation and utilities at 12,800 jobs.
- Education and health services at 8,300 jobs.
- Professional and business services at 7,900 jobs.
Of the sectors measured, the fastest rate of employment growth occurred in trade, transportation and utilities at 4.6 percent; financial activities at 4.4 percent; and manufacturing at 4.2 percent. Natural resources and mining was the only sector to see minor negative growth, with 100 jobs lost year-over.
At the county level, Washington County continues to outpace the rest of the state in job creation with a year-over growth rate of 7.1 percent and over 5,000 jobs added. Iron County is also above the state average at 4.6 percent growth with around 800 jobs added.
The fastest growing employment sectors in September in the St. George metropolitan statistical area, which comprises all of Washington County, are as follows:
- Education and health services at 11.5 percent.
- Retail trade at 9.8 percent.
- Leisure and hospitality at 9.6 percent.
While all employment sectors measured by the Department of Workforce Services saw year-over growth in the St. George metropolitan area, some of the lowest-performing industries in terms of job growth include information at 0.9 percent, wholesale trade at 1.3 percent and financial activities at 2.6 percent.
No year-over data has been released specific to Iron County as of September, but in 2018 as a whole, some of the highest-performing industries in the county include manufacturing; leisure and hospitality; and education and health services.
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