(KCPW News) Utah’s unemployment rate stayed flat at 6 percent in May, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But nearly 29,000 jobs have been added in the state over the past year. Mark Knold, Chief Economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, says that puts the Beehive State in the top 8 percent of job growth in the country. But he adds there is a lot more work to be done.
“It’s good news just because it’s job growth and it’s more jobs than we had a year ago, but the point is it’s only enough growth to keep up with the growth of the labor force, people who want jobs,” says Knold. “It’s not strong enough growth to go back and repair the damage, so to speak, of the recession.”
Knold says in order to fully restore the state’s economy, Utah’s employment growth rate has to go from 2.4 percent – where it is now and has hovered for the last six months – to above three percent.
“So we’re kind of stuck right there right now. I’d rather be stuck with growth than non-growth or job losses. But we need some outside help to push the growth rate to a higher level. When I say outside help. I mean we need a better U.S. economy and a better world economy. and that help is just not there right now,” he says.
More than 81,000 Utahns are considered unemployed. The national unemployment rate increased slightly in May to 8.2 percent.