New County Economic Snapshots For The Second Quarter Of 2021

By Michael Jeanfreau, Lecia Langston, and Lyndsey Stram (Regional Economists)

Check out the overall economic health of counties in Utah during the second quarter of 2021 in the below summaries and data visualizations. The quarterly county snapshots feature updates on economic indicators such as nonfarm job growth, unemployment rates, dwelling unit permits, and gross taxable sales.

Jump to a county summary:
Beaver  |  Box Elder  |  Cache  |  Carbon  |  Daggett  |  Davis  |  Duchesne  
Emery  |  Garfield  |  Grand  |  Iron  |  Juab  |  Kane  |  Millard  |  Morgan  
Piute  |  Rich  |  Salt Lake  |  San Juan  |  Sanpete  |  Sevier  |  Summit 
Tooele  |  Uintah  |  Utah  |  Wasatch  |  Washington  |  Wayne  |  Weber

Bear River Region

Box Elder County

Manufacturing, which is the largest industry in the county and makes up about 30% of employment in the area, saw disruptions in 2020 due to supply line complications during COVID. The second quarter shows the industry almost recovered, pushing the unemployment rate from its record spike of 10.4% in April 2020 down to 2.0% in September 2021. First-time unemployment insurance claims have dropped in the second quarter of 2021 from their initial pandemic spike in 2020 but have remained slightly over what we saw pre-pandemic, particularly within the manufacturing industry. However, there are good signs: dwelling unit construction permits are significantly up year-to-date in 2021, as is the change in total construction permit value. Gross taxable sales grew 19% in the second quarter of 2020, another quarter of growth in a string of significant gains. View Box Elder County’s data visualization.

Cache County

The economy in Cache County has been, and continues to be, one of the strongest in Utah and the nation. A very low unemployment rate and healthy positive job growth are both signs of an economy that avoided the worst of the pandemic effects. Cache County's nonfarm job count has grown by 7.4% over the last two years, a feat compared to both the nation (3.4% loss) and Utah (3.7% gain). First-time unemployment insurance claims have calmed down from 2020. Total construction permit values and gross taxable sales revenue are both up significantly in 2021, a healthy sign for the Cache economy. View Cache County’s data visualization.

Rich County

Rich County's small size makes the data fluctuate easily. For example, the county went from a 16% year-over-loss in March 2020 due to the pandemic to 10% overall growth by October of the same year. The story changed when Rich County saw overall job loss at the end of 2020, largely due to a struggling leisure/hospitality industry. In the second quarter of 2021, Rich County once again saw a high growth of 25% from the second quarter of 2019. Additionally, growth in gross taxable sales revenue has jumped to 60% in year-over growth, but wages continue to stagnate and fail to keep up with growth across the state. View Rich County’s data visualization.

Castle Country Region

Carbon County

While there are significant improvements in many economic indicators, the global pandemic continues its effects on the Carbon County economy in the second quarter of 2021. After peaking at 9.2% in April 2020, the unemployment rate has fallen considerably over the past year, most recently to 3.1% (September 2021). While many of the county's largest sectors lost jobs throughout 2020, taxable sales and wages have improved and initial claims for unemployment insurance remain low. Employment in the area has been nearly flat in the past two years, increasing just 0.1%. Construction permitting and taxable sales have both increased in the past year, and are bright spots in the county’s economy. View Carbon County’s data visualization.

Emery County

Unlike many of its neighbors, Emery County has already returned to positive job growth in the second quarter of 2021. Between June 2020 and June 2021, 158 jobs were added in Emery County. Other positive news in recent data is reduced unemployment and increased average wages. The unemployment rate peaked at 8.2% in April 2020 but has fallen, most recently to 3.3% in September 2021. Average wages and gross taxable sales have both remained relatively flat in Emery County in the past year, a departure from the statewide trend of increases in both indicators. View Emery County’s data visualization.

Central Region

Millard County

With little leisure/hospitality employment, Millard County’s economic descent in April 2020 proved less precipitous than that of many areas. It resumed job creation as early as October 2020. However, its recovery may not appear as flashy as harder-hit counties. Between June 2019 and June 2021, the county produced a rather tepid annual average growth rate of 1.6%. In addition, several industries have yet to regain their employment losses. However, joblessness has decreased to an extremely low level—merely 2.0% in September 2021. With such low unemployment, employment expansion might prove to be difficult. Construction has slowed in recent months. Sales growth continues to be fueled by the repercussions of stimulus spending. Millard County’s economy may not be booming, but few workers are available to fuel a faster expansion. View Millard County’s data visualization.

Piute County

While Piute County’s economy is hardly on fire, it has managed to perform better than the nation as a whole. In the 24 months between June 2019 and June 2021, Piute County’s nonfarm jobs grew at an average annual pace of less than 1%. However, the nation has yet to regain its pre-pandemic employment levels and shows an average 12-month drop of 3.4% over the same time period. Most importantly, leisure/hospitality services have added jobs over the past two years and growth would have been more robust except for a job decline in the ever-volatile construction industry. Many workers commute outside Piute County’s borders for work, which helped its unemployment rate to plummet below its pre-pandemic level to 3.8% by September 2021. In addition, in the second quarter of 2021, Piute County more than regained the sales lost at the beginning of public health restrictions. While not exploding, Piute County’s economy is certainly on the mend. View Piute County’s data visualization.

Sanpete County

Because of its relatively light dependence on tourism-related employment, Sanpete County remained insulated from the worst devastation of COVID-19. As a result, it recovered quickly. Between June 2019 and June 2021, the county created roughly 370 jobs for an average annual growth rate of 2.1%. Most major industries shared in this recovery. The notable exception was public and private education. By September 2021, unemployment had dropped to just 2.3%, which was lower than before the pandemic began. As elsewhere, gross taxable sales continued to benefit from the dispersion of stimulus funds. In general, Sanpete County’s economy is currently on a growth trajectory. View Sanpete County’s data visualization.

Sevier County

Sevier County’s economy continued to recuperate from the pandemic recession with job growth leading the way. Between June 2019 and June 2021, Sevier County added more than 270 new jobs and registered an annual average growth rate of 1.5%. Joblessness continued to decline, measuring only 2.6% in September 2021. That’s lower than before the pandemic and makes hiring difficult. Residential home permitting so far in 2021 is running higher than in the same time period in 2020. In addition, gross taxable sales continued to produce double-digit gains (fueled by the continued dispersal of stimulus funds). While not booming, Sevier County is certainly displaying a healthy economy. View Sevier County’s data visualization.

Wayne County

Although Wayne County’s economy depends heavily on tourism-related employment, it has managed a noteworthy recovery. Although hard-hit in the initial days of the pandemic, Wayne County jobs displayed a moderate annual average growth rate of 3% between June 2019 and June 2021. Although capricious construction employment gains are currently responsible for a large portion of the increase, even leisure/hospitality services have added employment over the past two years. Wayne County’s unemployment rate has dipped to 4.4%, still slightly higher than before the pandemic. However, because of Wayne County’s seasonal employment, joblessness typically runs above the state average. Construction permitting continued to improve and sales are up dramatically. However, remember that second-quarter 2021 is compared to the dismal drops in sales during the first days of the pandemic. By and large, Wayne County’s economy appears to have recuperated from the downturn. View Wayne County’s data visualization.

Mountainland Region

Juab County

While much of the state and nation continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Juab County has largely returned to positive and 'normal' territory in major economic indicators. At the height of the pandemic, the county's unemployment rate peaked in April 2020 at 5.7% and the county employment saw the largest decrease, 2.2%, between April 2019 and April 2020. Second-quarter 2021 data reveals employment growth of 6.6% in the past year, with the most significant increases in the manufacturing sector. Construction permitting has increased even over the strong levels of the past few years. Taxable sales also increased by 35% in the past year. View Juab County’s data visualization.

Summit County

Summit County, in particular, was affected heavily by the pandemic. The 'Stay Safe, Stay Home' public health orders and the increase in COVID-19 cases hit at what is normally the ski season peak in spring 2020. This caused mass unemployment and a drop in tourism spending, which the area heavily depends on. While the unemployment rate and job losses moderated slightly as the year went on, many of these effects continued as tourism in the area remained below normal levels. 2021 has brought major improvements to many indicators, hopefully signaling continued recovery to come. The unemployment rate has fallen to 2.2% as of September 2021. Construction and taxable sales have both increased significantly over the last year, all bright spots in the local economy. View Summit County’s data visualization.

Utah County

Utah County remains a bright spot in the statewide economy after a tumultuous year. After a brief dip in employment due to COVID-19, Utah County has quickly returned to a general upward trend in its employment. Unemployment is down, construction and sales are high, all signaling continued growth to come in the area. The diversity of the local economy is a solid foundation to continue the recovery from the pandemic. Employment in Utah County increased 7.4% in the past two years, while the unemployment rate fell to 1.8% in September 2021, after a peak of 7.7% in April 2020. Construction permitting and valuations have increased in the past year as Utah County continues its rapid growth. View Utah County’s data visualization.

Wasatch County

Though 2020 was a challenging year for the area and beyond, Wasatch County has rebounded to growth in many ways. After a dip in employment early in 2020, Wasatch County has returned to the upward trend of employment. In the past two years, the industries with the highest growth include trade, transportation, utilities, education, healthcare, social services, and leisure/hospitality. After a peak of 17.7% in April 2020, the unemployment rate fell to 2.2% in September 2021. As the population in Wasatch County continues to increase, the rate of construction does as well with 609 new dwelling unit permits already approved in 2021, surpassing even the high levels of recent years. Gross taxable sales also increased 28% in the past year, a sign of continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. View Wasatch County’s data visualization.

Southeast Region

Grand County

In the spring of 2020, the economic outlook in Grand County was relatively bleak. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand County's unemployment rate peaked in April 2020 at 27% and the county employment saw the largest decrease, 32%, between April 2019 and April 2020. Though the picture improved through the rest of the year, the effects of the pandemic have been severe in the county's economy which is largely tourism-dependent. However, the economic situation is turning up, with many indicators showing positive movement in the second quarter. In the past two years, the total Grand County employment has increased by 3.4%. Taxable sales have increased sharply, 123.2%, compared to the low spending of 2020. View Grand County’s data visualization.

San Juan County

Still reeling from the effects of COVID-19, San Juan County continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state (4.9% in September 2021) and employment decreased 7.3% over the past year. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the county's unemployment rate peaked in April 2020 at 16.6% and the county employment saw the largest decrease, 17.3%, between May 2019 and May 2020. As a county with a large leisure/hospitality sector, there is a delay in rebounding from the past year’s economic downturn. Gross taxable sales is a positive indicator in the local economy, there was an increase of nearly 28% in spending in the past year. View San Juan County’s data visualization.

Southwest Region

Beaver County

Beaver County seems to have fully recuperated from the pandemic recession. The county experienced a less painful pandemic sting than many areas, giving it a head start in the recovery process. Despite public health closures, Beaver County produced an annual average of 3.5% employment expansion over the past 24 months. Remarkably, leisure/hospitality services created the largest number of new positions. As jobs expanded, unemployment fell. At 2.1%, the county’s September 2021 rate measured lower than before the pandemic. Currently, a tight labor market with few unemployed workers makes hiring extremely difficult. Construction permitting continues to boom and sales and business investment expenditures remain extremely robust (up 29% year-over-year in second quarter 2021). All in all, Beaver County’s economic indicators point to a very healthy economy. View Beaver County’s data visualization.

Garfield County

COVID-19 public health restrictions and tourism did not mix. Garfield County’s huge leisure/hospitality sector suffered terribly in the pandemic’s wake. However, the county has made significant strides toward recovery. It has not completely regained the lost employment—between June 2019 and June 2021 nonfarm jobs dropped by 2%. However, at its worst in April 2020, the pandemic recession had swallowed almost one-third of the county’s employment. Unemployment has dropped dramatically (6.2% in September 2021) and first-time claims for unemployment insurance claims are tracking with low 2019 levels. Home-permitting has slowed in recent months. However, sales have bounced back nicely. Garfield County is certainly on the road to recovery. View Garfield County’s data visualization.

Iron County

Iron County made a rapid recovery from the pandemic recession. It began growing jobs as early as the summer of 2020. Between June 2019 and June 2020, Iron County’s nonfarm jobs increased by a whopping 11%—that’s an average of 5.5% per year in the midst of the national pandemic recession. Almost all major industrial sectors have enjoyed job creation. Not surprisingly, Iron County’s unemployment rate has plummeted, registering a mere 2.3% in September 2021. The county’s prime economic struggle is finding sufficient workers to fuel the expansion. The building sector continued to ignore any slowdown. Both residential and nonresidential permit values are up dramatically from 2020 when the county approved the highest number of permits ever. In addition, stimulus dollars continued to drive sales up 31% in the second quarter. If possible, rapid growth provides the primary economic dilemma in Iron County. View Iron County’s data visualization.

Kane County

Kane County’s economy endured significant deterioration during the early days of the pandemic recession as a result of its high dependence on tourism-related employment. However, it has rebounded nicely adding jobs as early as October 2020. Between June 2019 and June 2021, the county actually managed an average annual growth rate of 3.4% and reached its highest number of nonfarm jobs ever. Not surprisingly given this expansion, unemployment rates plummeted to 2.5% by September 2021—lower than before the pandemic. A very tight labor market faces employers attempting to hire workers. Construction sailed blithely through the pandemic recession and continues to boom. In addition, sales have more than recovered with leisure/hospitality services leading the way. The county has gone from economic rags to riches in a very short period of time. View Kane County’s data visualization.

Washington County

“Downturn, what downturn?” many Washington County residents may ask. Between June 2019 and June 2021, Washington County’s annual average nonfarm job growth rate averaged nearly 5%. That’s in line with the county’s long-term average. With such robust expansion, the county’s 2.6% unemployment rate should come as no surprise. Joblessness is now below pre-pandemic levels creating an extremely tight labor market. Construction seems to be driving much of the growth. In 2021, residential permits are running neck and neck with 2020 (the year with the highest number of home permits ever). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the housing market is beginning to cool slightly. Gross taxable sales in Washington County never really took a pandemic hit making the incredible 38% gain in second-quarter 2021 even more remarkable. Overall, rapid expansion and the resultant difficulty in hiring workers creates the largest struggle for the Washington County economy. View Washington County’s data visualization.

Uintah Basin Region

Daggett County

After initial job losses in the spring of 2020, Daggett County has quickly returned to positive territory in multiple indicators. Employment increased by nearly 12% in the past two years, due largely to increases in the leisure/hospitality sector. After peaking at 9% in April 2020, unemployment has fallen to 3.5% most recently (September 2021). After falling taxable sales in the second quarter of 2020, the county saw a 42% increase, a positive indicator of post-pandemic recovery in the tourism-dependent area. View Daggett County’s data visualization.

Duchesne County

Job growth in Duchesne County had been relatively flat since 2016. After a dip in employment during COVID-19, employment in the county has reached its previous level. Unemployment has fallen, although at a slower pace than most of the other counties. The mining sector is a major employer in the area that was susceptible to the economic downturn brought by the pandemic. This caused many job losses in the mining sector in 2020, but these jobs are starting to return. Construction permitting approvals and valuations are up as of August 2021, a bright spot in the local economy. The statewide trend of increased taxable sales has reached Duchesne County, with an increase of 44% since last year. View Duchesne County’s data visualization.

Uintah County

The newly released second-quarter data gives insight into the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy. Uintah County's unemployment rate peaked in April at 15.9%, then fell, but at a lower rate than much of the state. The unemployment rate remains higher than much of the state, 4.1% as of September 2021. Though initially, Uintah County had been relatively slow to recover from the initial impact of the pandemic, many key indicators are turning around. In a two-year comparison of employment, the mining and government sectors are largely responsible for a 4.5% reduction in the county’s employment over the time period. Construction permitting has increased in the past year and as of August 2021, 80 new dwelling units have been approved, already topping the number approved in all of 2020. Gross taxable sales also increased nearly 32% in the past year. View Uintah County’s data visualization.

Wasatch Front North Region

Davis County

In the face of adverse conditions, the Davis County economy has begun to recover quickly from the initial effects of the pandemic. The unemployment rate dropped from its record spike of 9.0% in April down to 1.9% in September 2021. First-time unemployment insurance claims have tapered down to pre-pandemic averages in the third quarter after the initial surge in 2020. With jobs growing a healthy 1.9% in June 2021 year-over-year, Davis County saw growth slightly below the state’s average of 1.9% and fared better than the national losses of 3.4%. Dwelling unit construction and the total value is up year-to-date, and with growth in both gross taxable sales and average wages, 2021 looks bright for Davis County. View Davis County’s data visualization.

Morgan County

2021 continues to be fantastic for Morgan County. Almost every industry sector has seen strong growth in nonfarm jobs, with only minor exceptions. Particularly strong gains came from professional/business services, government, mining, construction, and trade/transport/utility which each added over 50 jobs. Such strong growth led to an almost 10% growth in June 2021 from 2019, the pre-pandemic market. The unemployment rate continues to lower, resting at 1.7% in September 2021. Construction permit values are up and average monthly wages have increased. View Morgan County’s data visualization.

Weber County

As one of the only northern counties with job growth below Utah’s average, Weber County is a mixed bag of standout industries growing, while weighed down by others still recovering. Manufacturing, trade/transport/utility, construction, and government combined recorded almost 4,500 nonfarm jobs gained year-over in June 2021 from 2019, but losses elsewhere resulted in an overall net gain of 3,100 jobs. Weber County's unemployment dropped to 2.2% in September 2021, close to the Utah average. Dwelling unit construction permits are up from 2021 and gross taxable sales revenue have grown significantly throughout the year, a healthy sign for the Weber economy. View Weber County’s data visualization.

Wasatch Front South Region

Salt Lake County

Utah's largest employment center weathered many changes in 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic affected the state and nation, Salt Lake County's employment numbers fell, unemployment ticked up sharply, while tourism and spending dwindled. Many of these key indicators show major improvements in the second quarter of 2021. Salt Lake County has returned to pre-pandemic employment levels; and in the two-year comparison, 11,976 jobs were added in the county. The unemployment rate has fallen significantly from the peak of 11.2% in April of 2020, most recently to 2.2% in September 2021. Salt Lake County is on track to meet the strong construction permitting of the past few years, a bright spot in the local economy. View Salt Lake County’s data visualization.

Tooele County

The first half of 2021 brought major job growth and declining unemployment to Tooele County. A portion of the sharp employment increase of the past year was due to the correction of an accounting error that previously counted approximately 1,100 manufacturing jobs in a different county. Since 2019, Tooele County has added 2,843 jobs, a growth of 17.4%. Even with 1,100 of these jobs being added due to the remedied error, the local economy has grown significantly over the past two years, with every industry sector adding jobs. As the population in Tooele County continues to grow, increasing construction and gross taxable sales remain bright spots in the local economy. The unemployment rate in the county is 2.3% as of September 2021. View Tooele County’s data visualization.