Chief economist says St. George is Utah’s most top-heavy economy – St George News

File photo of St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy city of St. George, St. George News

ST. GEORGE— St. George is one of Utah’s fastest-growing, most top-heavy economies, chief economist at the Department of Workforce Services, Mark Knold said.

in his Soundcloud analysisKnold said Utah had another month of robust economic numbers.

“The Utah economy continues to amaze that it can add jobs at the quantity it has with – on paper – virtually no additional available labor to keep this fire stoked,” Knold said.

According to the Utah Employment Summary released Friday, Utah’s nonfarm employment increased an estimated 4% over the last 12 months, as the state added 62,900 jobs since March 2021.

Utah’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was posted at 2%, with an estimated 33,400 Utahns currently unemployed. Comparatively, the national unemployment rate is 3.6%, the summary states.

A graph comparing Utah and the nation’s unemployment rates, date and location not specified | Image courtesy of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, St. George News

While Utah gains new workers through migration and recent graduates, St. George’s growth is significantly fueled by individuals migrating from California, Knold said.

St. George is Utah’s most top-heavy economy, he added, calling it an “interesting conundrum” and noting that 28% of St. George’s labor force is 65 years or older. It is also one of the state’s fastest-growing economies, he said.

In comparison, he said just 15% of the state’s labor force is older than 65 and the national average is 20%.

“Think of it this way, 28% of the St. George local population consumes the local area’s commerce but adds little to nothing to the local area commerce’s production,” Knold said. “So the other 72% has to do all the production for that 28% and that is only to support that nonproducing but fully-consuming segment of the local population. That says nothing about that other 72% having to support all the travelers and tourists that pass through the area on a daily basis.”

He said St. George’s saving grace is that it also has a bottom-heavy economy with the largest segment of its labor force being between 16 and 30 years old. Additionally, young workers are generally more active in the labor force, he said.

Iron County’s job growth has increased 4.9% in the last year and approximately 0.5% since February. Additionally, Washington County’s employment increased 4.5% since last March and approximately 0.8% since February.

Nine of Utah’s 10 major private-sector industry groups recorded year-over-year job growth, with the exception of the professional and business services industry, which often utilizes excess labor, according to the employment summary.

“But with unemployment historically low, there is not much of an excess labor pool to work with,” the summary adds.

Utah was also recently ranked as the No. 1 state for economic outlook for the 15th constitutive year by the ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index.

“After 15 years of being the highest-ranked state, we have never taken its success for granted,” Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams said in a statement. “We continue to reach for new heights and are determined never to be complacent. As a state, we buckle down during hard times, relying on our forward-thinking reserve funds and preparing for future uncertainties during good economic periods.”

April’s employment information will be released May 20 at 7 am, according to the Utah Employment Summary. For additional information visit the Utah Department of Workforce Services’ website.

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