The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released its Employment Situation Summary for November. The economy added 210,000 jobs, which was less than half of what economists expected. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%. That compares to 14.8% in April 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and 3.5% in February 2020, just before the virus spread began.
The unemployment rate for whites was 3.7%, for Blacks 6.7%, for Hispanics 5.2% and for Asians 3.8%.
The BLS also releases data by state and by metropolitan statistical area (MSA). The latest Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary covers the month of October and says:
Unemployment rates were lower in October than a year earlier in 386 of the 389 metropolitan areas, higher in 1 area, and unchanged in 2 areas. A total of 110 areas had jobless rates of less than 3.0 percent and 2 areas had rates of at least 10.0 percent.
The hardest-hit metro was El Centro, California, which had an unemployment rate of 17.1%.
It is extremely rare to find a city with an unemployment rate of under 2%. In October, two MSAs in Utah had numbers well below that. The jobless rates in Logan and Provo were 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively.
The Logan number is particularly rare because less than 1,000 people were unemployed there in October. Logan is ranked 289th of the 389 MSAs in the nation based on population. It is also among the fastest growing. Its 2020 population, according to the Census Bureau, was 147,348, which was up 17.46% from the 2010 figure.
The Logan civilian labor force is 76,871 people. The number of unemployed people in the city in October was only 850.
Among the most difficult problems is that people who left the labor force during the pandemic have not returned. Within Utah, which has low unemployment across the state, the problem is particularly vexing. The Herald Journal News reports on efforts to lure workers back:
At the state level, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson started up a program titled “Return to Utah” to encourage Utahns to return to work. According to the website, the positions provide “experience, training, skills, and mentoring an individual needs to return to the workforce without starting from the bottom of the career ladder.” The “returnships” will typically last up to 16 weeks.
Utah has had unemployment rates below those of the nation for years. Based on a lack of people to fill jobs, that is unlikely to change.