A NEW CBRE ANALYSIS has revealed that the Wasatch Front area was the least hit for year-over-year April job losses among 40 large U.S. metro areas studied. The area from Ogden to Provo saw its unemployment level at 6.6% higher than April 2019. Phoenix and Dallas areas were tied for second best at 7.6% higher.
April’s unemployment levels vary across Utah, but tourism-dependent counties have taken the hardest hits. Grand County, which contains Moab, saw the state’s largest increase in unemployment from February to April: an astounding 22% – double the national average. (See the figure, below.) Other tourism-dependent counties also saw increases at or above 10%: Garfield (17%), Kane (12%), San Juan (10%) and Wayne (10%). Along the Wasatch Back, the hit to tourism drove Summit (18%) and Wasatch (14%) counties’ unemployment increases. Utah’s tourism and tourism-related industries have seen significant economic drop-offs. In Utah, this decrease hit around 90% – from about $26 million in spending per day down to $3 million.
The only other county that saw an increase in unemployment from February to April above 10% was energy sector-dependent Uintah County.
Overall, Utah’s unemployment was up to 9.7% in April from only 2.5% in February and 3.6% in March. This was higher than at any point during the Great Recession when unemployment topped out at 8.0% in spring 2010. But the April rate remained lower than any state other than North Dakota (8.5%).
There may be some light on the horizon. Americans saw some good news on Friday with the May jobs report; the U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly decreased to 13.3%, with a return of hospitality and leisure jobs leading the way. When the numbers are crunched, Utah could see a rosier picture for May as well – with unemployment fillings from May already showing a positive trajectory.
Note: For this post, tourism-dependent counties are defined as those with tourism that account for more than one sixth of their economies.
Source: Utah Department of Workforce Services, Current County Unemployment, https://jobs.utah.gov/wi/data/library/employment/countyunemployment.html. And Utah Department of Workforce Services, Local Insights – County Snapshots, https://jobs.utah.gov/wi/insights/county/index.html. Utah Foundation calculations.
 CBRE, U.S. Multifamily Research Brief, COVID 19 Decimates Job Growth; Salt Lake City Least Hit, June 4, 2020.
 Utah Department of Workforce Services, Current County Unemployment, https://jobs.utah.gov/wi/data/library/employment/countyunemployment.html. For this post, tourism-dependent counties are defined as those with tourism that account for over one sixth of their economies.
 Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism, during a Utah League of Cities and Towns’ Town Hall for Local Leaders on May 18, 2020.
 Utah Department of Workforce Services, Current County Unemployment, https://jobs.utah.gov/wi/data/library/employment/countyunemployment.html.
 Utah Department of Workforce Services, https://jobs.utah.gov/wi/update/empind/.
 Tax Foundation, A Visual Guide to Unemployment Benefit Claims, June 4, 2020, https://taxfoundation.org/unemployment-insurance-claims/?utm_source=Tax+Foundation+Newsletters&utm_campaign=afed2722d3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_17_07_28_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8387957ec9-afed2722d3-429193525&mc_cid=afed2722d3&mc_eid=b9e33ae85a.