It’s still bad, but getting better

May’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was reported to be 8.5 percent by the Utah Department of Workforce Services — better than April’s 10.4 percent and coming down as Utah goes back to work.

May’s jobless rate is second best in the nation behind Nebraska’s 5.2 percent. The national unemployment rate for May was reported at 13.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Utah’s nonfarm payroll employment for May contracted by an estimated 4.8 percent, with 75,400 jobs sidelined compared to the May 2019 employment. Most job reductions remain as furloughs and are considered temporary in nature. Utah’s current employment level sits at 1,485,800.

“May’s employment improvement marks April as the low point in the COVID-19 economic setback,” said Mark Knold, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services. “We expect May to be the largest single month for job improvement with the initial return to work for many employees as consumer activity greatly increased. With the May job improvement, nearly one-quarter of Utah’s COVID-idled workers have returned to work.”

Following the release of the May employment numbers for the state, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows Utah is ranked No. 1 for total job growth in the U.S. at minus 4.8 percent. In addition, Utah is ranked No. 1 for private sector job growth.

Utah’s private-sector employment contraction eased in May, with a year-over-year setback nearly halved to  minus 4.6 percent. Two of 10 private-sector major industry groups measured in the establishment survey posted net job gains in May, these being construction (8,000 jobs) and financial activities (500 jobs). The remaining eight industry groups posted employment declines. These were most impactful in leisure and hospitality services (42,100 jobs); professional and business services (7,800 jobs); and trade, transportation and utilities (7,200 jobs).

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