The U.S. unemployment rate in August was 8.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The figure was higher than in most months during the Great Recession but well below the figures from May, June and July of this year. It is nowhere close to the historically low rate of 3.5% during much of 2019.
Unemployment rates were up in August compared to the same month in 2019 in 387 of the 389 metropolitan areas and lower in the other two. Thirty-seven cities had jobless rates of less than 5%, and six had rates of 15% or more.
A 5% jobless rate is considered full employment by most economists. This is based on the theory that there are always a small number of people between jobs or entering or exiting the national workforce.
The two cities with the lowest rates were Logan, Utah-Idaho, and Idaho Falls, Idaho, both at 2.7%.
These cities are in states where the jobless figure is low as well. Utah’s unemployment rate in August was 4.2%. Idaho’s was 3.8%.
Another thing the two cities have in common is that they are extremely small compared to most of the other cities in America. That means the number of people unemployed in each is counted in the thousands. In Logan, the figure is only 1,827.
Utah and Idaho have several advantages over most states in terms of jobs. In Utah, five of the 10 top employers are hospitals or medical systems. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is also a major employer, and the tech industry is another, led by Cisco Systems.
Idaho’s largest employers are in the tech industry, universities, health care centers and the military. The largest employer in the state is Micron Technology. Boise State University is next, followed by the Mountain Home Air Force Base. The University of Idaho and the Idaho Military Department are high on the list.
The employment bases in the lowest unemployment cities are stable, as well as in industries in which layoffs are unlikely. They should continue to enjoy what is better than “full employment.”