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Utah Workforce Participation Up, Not For Young Adults


The most recent numbers from the Utah Department of Workforce Services show that Utah’s unemployment rate dropped last month to 3.9 percent. Although higher than the 3.5 to 3.7 percent range Utah has seen over the last year or two, the small unemployment spike could be because of more people entering the workforce.



Carrie Mayne, chief economist at the DWS, said that the state’s workforce participation rate has grown in 2016.

“Our most recent figure puts us at 68.3 percent. Throughout 2016, it’s been steadily increasing. It tends to be a number that doesn’t move very fast, so you don’t see significant swings. We started the year at 67.8 percent and have just gradually increased since then,” Mayne said.

Mayne explained that Utah is experiencing a healthy level of job growth. Increasing employment in the educational, health, professional, technical, and scientific fields has bolstered a diversifying state economy.

She said that working adults staying in the workforce longer may be an explanation for the higher level of participation.

“We lost quite a few of our workers in the teens and young adults and that’s the group that’s been slowest to return back to the workforce since the recession,” she said. “We have seen a little bit of a change in how we usually see the older age groups move. They seem to be staying in the workforce longer. That may be contributing to helping that number push up. In terms of it growing, the majority of it is coming from those working-age adults.”

The DWS reports that there are around 44,000 new jobs in July of this year compared to July 2015.