By Michael Jeanfreau, Ben Crabb, and Lyndsey Stram (Regional Economists)
Across Utah’s 29 counties, economic performance varies. Some counties seem fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic recession while others are still working toward recovery. The good news, All county economies are improving. To view county-by-county overviews, click on one of the following links to be taken to more information. To view a data visualization of the information, click here.
Jump to a county summary:
Northern Utah Region (Bear River & Wasatch Front North)
By Michael Jeanfreau, Senior Regional Economist
Northern Utah is climbing out of economic deficits the pandemic created. After experiencing losses along with the state and nation, the northern region has returned to job growth above pre-pandemic conditions. Cache County continues to be a standout in the nation, while the Ogden-Clearfield Metropolitan Statistical Area is one of the few in that nation to have positive growth over the last year. The future looks bright for this region. For more detailed information, click here.
Box Elder CountyManufacturing, which is the largest industry in the county and makes up about 30% of county employment, saw disruptions in 2020 due to supply-chain complications. 2021 shows the industry recovered, pushing the unemployment rate down to a new record low of 1.6% in December 2021. First-time unemployment insurance claims have dropped back to pre-pandemic levels, wage gains are outpacing state growth, dwelling-unit-construction permits are up in year-to-date 2021 significantly, as changes in total construction permit value have risen. Gross taxable sales grew in the third quarter of 2021, another quarter of growth in a string of significant gains.
Cache CountyCache County has been, and continues to be, one of the strongest local economies in Utah and the nation. A low unemployment rate and healthy job growth are both signs of an economy that avoided the worst of the pandemic’s effects. Cache County's nonfarm job count has grown by 6.4% over the last two years, a notable feat when compared to both the nation (-2.6%) and Utah (3.4%). First-time unemployment insurance claims have decreased from 2020. Total construction permit values and gross taxable sales revenue are both up significantly in 2021, a healthy sign for the Cache economy.
Rich CountyRich County's small size means data fluctuate easily. For example, the county went from a 16% year-over-year job loss in March 2020 due to the pandemic to 10% overall job growth by October of the same year. The story changed when Rich saw overall job loss at the end of 2020, largely due to a struggling leisure/hospitality industry. In the third quarter of 2021, Rich County once again saw a high growth of 13% from Q3 2019. Additionally, growth in gross taxable sales revenue dropped from 60% growth year-over to 20% growth between Q2 and Q3 of 2020. Wages continue to stagnate and fail to keep up with growth across the state.
Davis CountyThe Davis County economy has begun to recover quickly from the initial effects of the pandemic. The unemployment rate dropped from its record spike in 2020 down to 1.5% in September 2021. First-time unemployment insurance claims have tapered down to pre-pandemic averages in Q3 after the initial surge in 2020. Davis County has modest job growth, and dwelling unit construction and total construction valuation are up year-to-date. Gross taxable sales have also grown. However, a tight labor market may be a hurdle throughout 2022.
Morgan CountyAlmost every industry sector in Morgan County has seen strong growth in nonfarm jobs, with only minor exceptions. Particularly strong gains came in construction, transportation, and government. Such strong growth led to almost 10% increase in employment in September 2021 from the 2019 pre-pandemic market. The unemployment rate continues to decrease, dropping to 1.3% in December 2021. Construction permit values and gross taxable sales are up, but wage growth has failed to respond to the tight labor market conditions so far.
Weber CountyOne of the only northern counties that saw job growth below the Utah average, Weber is a mixed bag of standout industries growing, 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. Losses elsewhere, however, resulted in an overall net gain of only 3,100 jobs. Weber County's unemployment dropped to 1.7% in December 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.
By Lyndsey Stram, Senior Regional Economist
In Southeast Utah, there’s a variety of economic performances. Some counties weathered the pandemic recession well; others felt its effects more keenly. The good news? All these economies are improving; most are even growing. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Carbon CountyWhile there are significant improvements in many economic indicators, the global pandemic continues its effects on the Carbon County economy in the third quarter of 2021. After peaking at 9.2% in April 2020, the unemployment rate has fallen considerably over the past year. While many of the county's largest sectors lost jobs throughout 2020, taxable sales and construction have improved and initial claims for unemployment insurance remain low.
Emery CountyEmery County returned to positive job growth quickly in 2021. Between September 2020 and September 2021, 49 jobs were added in Emery County. Other positive news in recent data is reduced unemployment and increased average wages.
Grand CountyIn the spring of 2020, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic outlook in Grand County was relatively bleak. Grand County's unemployment rate peaked in April 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 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021, 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 third-quarter data.
San Juan CountyStill recovering from the effects of COVID-19, San Juan County continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state and sustained employment losses over the past year and a half. As a county with a large leisure/hospitality sector, there is a delay in rebounding from the economic downturn. Employment has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, unemployment is down and wages are up slightly. Taxable sales are also at a much higher level than last year.
Southeast Utah Visualization
By Ben Crabb, Regional EconomistIn Central Utah, there’s a wide variety of economic performances. Some counties weathered the pandemic recession well while others felt its effects more keenly. The good news is that all these economies are improving; most are even growing. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Millard CountyMillard County's economy was not as hard-hit by the pandemic as many other counties, as it has relatively low dependence on tourism. It has performed better than the nation in terms of jobs over the last two years but has still seen job declines of -0.8% over this time period. The county has lost 160 jobs in the government sector and 30 jobs in leisure/hospitality over the last two years, more than counterbalancing modest gains in other sectors. Nonetheless, the county’s unemployment is at just 1.5%, suggesting those who are seeking a job can find one, and that employers are facing a tight labor market. Wages increased 1.2% in the last quarter, compared to a 1.7% wage growth rate for the state. Construction and sales are both up over last year's levels. Despite a lackluster jobs growth record, Millard County is exhibiting signs of growth and resilience.
Piute CountyPiute County had only 277 nonfarm jobs as of the September 2021 jobs data release. Of this, 50% were in the government sector. This is largely K-12 education. Due to its small size, small changes in jobs and other economic indicators can produce sizable percentage changes. Over the last two years, the county has had job losses of -1.1%. The biggest losses came in the government (10 jobs) and construction (20 jobs) sectors, while the leisure and hospitality sector actually gained 14 jobs over the last two years. Wages have been flat in the county for several quarters, and while the unemployment rate is only 3%, this rate exceeds the state level of 1.9%. Many residents commute outside of the county for work.
Sanpete CountySanpete County is growing fast and seems to have fully recovered from any pandemic downturn. Jobs data from September 2021 show the highest level of jobs on record and very strong job growth over the last two years. Sanpete County has seen large job gains in leisure/hospitality, trade/transportation/utilities, and financial activities compared to the pre-pandemic reference period in September 2019. Unemployment is at a very low 1.7%, wages are growing, and construction and sales are up compared to a year ago.
Sevier CountySevier County recovered initial job losses incurred during the onset of the pandemic within just 2 months or so. However, its subsequent growth has been relatively modest. Sevier has a substantial portion of its employment base in the mining sector (6.4 %), and over the last two years, that sector has lost 36 jobs, contributing to somewhat reduced growth. Over the last two years, the county has seen overall job gains of 2.4%, which is a bit slower than the state's growth rate of 3.4%. Manufacturing and the trade/transportation/utilities sectors have seen substantial job gains in the last two years. The county unemployment rate sits at a very low 2.0%, in line with the state's rate of 1.9%. Wage growth from Q2 to Q3 of 2021 was only 0.5%, lagging the state average of 1.7%. Construction permitting was down and taxable sales were up over 2020 levels. Overall, the economy of Sevier County is performing modestly well.
Wayne CountyWayne County's economy is one of Utah’s smallest and most tourism-dependent in the state, with 32% of jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector. As such, it experiences strong seasonal fluctuations with the ebb and flow of tourist activity. While the first COVID summer in 2020 was a depressed season with essentially no job growth over 2019, by the summer of 2021 Wayne County's economy was back on a strong growth path with two-year growth of 7.8% from September 2019 to September 2021. The leisure/hospitality sector led the way, expanding by 32 jobs. Wage growth from Q2 to Q3 was only 0.7%, lagging the average state wage growth rate of 1.7%, but unemployment was at a record low of 3.1%. Both residential and nonresidential construction permitting YTD in 2021 were up compared to their 2020 levels, as were sales. Wayne County seems to be back to the strong growth trajectory it has been on since about 2014 and should continue to thrive as long as the pandemic does not interfere significantly with the tourism industry.
Central Utah Visualization
By Lyndsey Stram, Senior Regional Economist
In the Mountainland region, all counties show positive movement in economic indicators. 18 months beyond the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment is low while wages, taxable sales, and employment are trending upwards. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Juab CountyIn contrast to much of the state and the country, Juab County was quick to return to positive and 'normal' territory in major economic indicators following the COVID-19 pandemic. The county's unemployment rate peaked in April 2020 at 5.7% and county employment saw the largest decrease, 2.2%, between April 2019 and April 2020. Third-quarter data reveals employment growth, lower unemployment, strong wages, increasing construction, and taxable sales.
Summit CountySummit County in particular was affected heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. The 'stay home, stay safe' orders and increase in cases hit what is normally the peak of tourism and the ski season in the area in the Spring of 2020, causing mass unemployment and a drop in tourism spending, which the area depends on. 2021 has brought major improvements to many indicators including employment, taxable sales, construction, and wages, signaling continued recovery and growth to come.
Utah County18 months out from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the job losses that were seen last year appear as a minor blip in the overall trends of the Utah County economy. The total employment growth quickly returned in the area and labor shortages are a larger topic of conversation than the lingering effects of the pandemic. The unemployment rate is at a record low, wages and sales have seen significant growth and construction continues at a feverish pace. The Utah County economy remains a bright spot in the state's overall growth.
Wasatch CountyThough 2020 was a challenging year for the area and beyond, Wasatch County has rebounded to growth in many ways. Because of the local economy's prevalent leisure/hospitality sector and tourism spending, the effects of the pandemic were significant. Throughout 2021, employment has rebounded, construction is growing rapidly and tourism spending is increasing.
By Ben Crabb, Regional EconomistIn southwest Utah, there’s a varying range of economic performance. Some counties seem fully recovered from the pandemic recession while others are still recovering. The good news? All these economies are improving. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Beaver CountyBeaver County's economy has spanned the pandemic time period in a rather strong fashion. From June 2019 to June 2021 the economy has grown by 7.3%. Since then things have been leveling off, with September 2021 data showing that the two-year job-growth pace has slowed to 1.7%. Government (mostly education) is the county’s largest employer with 32% of all jobs. While the jobs level fluctuates over short time frames, the county's current job level is essentially unchanged since 2013, indicating an economy that is neither growing nor contracting. On a positive note, the county's unemployment rate in December is near a record low of only 2.0%, in line with the state level (1.9%) and significantly below the national rate (3.9%).
Garfield CountyGarfield County had a total of 2,759 nonfarm jobs in September 2021, with a significant 45% of jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, the highest dependence on this sector of any county in the state. While the county had returned to pre-pandemic job levels by March 2021, as of September 2021 its two-year job change was slightly negative at -0.3%. Garfield also had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 4.6%. On a positive note, sales in the 3rd quarter were up 15% and both residential and non-residential permitting were up compared to their levels in 2020. However, until the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic fade into the rearview, the county is likely to continue to experience sub-par economic performance.
Iron CountyIron County has returned to a strong growth trajectory following a quick rebound from the initial pandemic downturn. Jobs are at an all-time high, and the two-year pace of job growth is 6.9%, outpacing the state (+3.4%) and the nation (-2.6%). Job gains over the last two years have been led by the construction sector, which gained 625 jobs based on the latest September 2021 data. Unemployment in December 2021 was 1.9%, the same as the statewide rate, and sales and construction permitting are both up substantially over the last year. Wages grew 1.8% over the last quarter, these are indications that the Iron County economy is growing at a rapid clip.
Kane CountyKane County's highly seasonal economy was depressed in the summer of 2020 following the onset of the pandemic but has since re-established a growth trajectory. Over the last two years, the county has increased jobs by 3.6%, on pace with the state’s 3.4% and significantly outperforming the country (-2.6%). Despite largely having recovered from the pandemic, leisure and hospitality and other services jobs are still down considerably from their pre-pandemic heights, perhaps reflecting the "Great Resignation" phenomenon across the country that has particularly affected these traditionally low-pay sectors. Nonetheless, county-wide unemployment of 1.8% is below the state average, and sales in the third quarter of 2021 grew over their 2020 levels by 13.4%. The Kane County economy is going strong.
Washington CountyWashington County's strong growth trajectory continues. Following the severe pandemic-induced economic downturn in April 2020, Washington County was back to pre-pandemic job parity in just four months. Since then, the county has returned to its typically rapid job growth, with two-year gains of 8.8% compared to 3.4% for the state, and one-year job growth of 6.1%. Unemployment is at an all-time low of 1.8%, reflecting a very tight labor market. December marks the 6th straight month of record-setting low unemployment. Wage growth in the county from 2021 Q2 to Q3 was 1.6%, comparable to the state average wage growth of 1.7%. Construction continues to flourish with overall construction permit values as of October YTD exceeding the 2020 level by 8%, although nearly all of that excess growth has occurred in non-residential permits.
Uintah Basin Region
By Lyndsey Stram, Senior Regional Economist
In the Uintah Basin region, some counties have weathered the pandemic recession well while others have not. The good news? All of the Basin’s economies are improving. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Daggett CountyThe newly released third-quarter 2021 data gives insight into the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy. After initial job losses in the spring of 2020, Daggett County has quickly returned to positive territory in multiple indicators. Employment is up, unemployment is down, wages and taxable sales have improved as well.
Duchesne CountyJob growth in Duchesne County has been relatively flat since 2016. After a dip in employment during COVID-19, employment in the county has returned to its previous level. Unemployment has fallen, though a bit more slowly than much of the state. High levels of construction and sales are the bright spots in the local economy.
Uintah CountyEven prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Uintah County's employment was decreasing, largely due to job losses in the mining sector. The pandemic further disrupted the local economy and though the county saw a slower recovery than some of its neighbors, 2021 has brought employment recovery, increased construction and sales, and falling unemployment.
By Lyndsey Stram, Senior Regional Economist
In the Wasatch Front South region, some counties have weathered the pandemic recession well while others felt its effects more keenly. The good news? All these economies are improving; most are even growing. A county-by-county overview follows. For more detailed information, click here.
Salt Lake CountyUtah'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. The third quarter of 2021 brings continued employment recovery, even some growth, paired with record-low unemployment, growing wages, and strong construction and sales figures. The Salt Lake County economy stands poised for continued growth in the future.
Through the third quarter, 2021 has brought job growth, increased wages and sales, high levels of construction, and very low unemployment to Tooele County. Though some sectors are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tooele County economy is on a positive trajectory.
Wasatch Front South Visualization