How the Coronavirus is Affecting Utah’s Job Market
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. has been severe and swift. Now that the coronavirus has spread to all 50 U.S. states, no worker or business hasn’t been affected by the virus in some way.
The pandemic’s economic effects make it more than likely the U.S. will slide into a recession. Many economists have said the recession has, in fact, already begun. As new economic indicators come in, such as initial unemployment claims, it’s become apparent, though, that not every U.S. state will be hit as hard.
Over the past year, Empire Resume has reported on the strength of Utah’s economy. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, Utah officials are reassuring state residents the state is in a good position to weather this economic storm.
Utah reported its first COVID-19 case on March 6th. As of 3/28/20, there are 602 reported COVID-19 cases in Utah and two reported deaths. Like many states, Utah’s governor has declared a state of emergency, closed schools and non-essential businesses, and directed people to stay home as much as possible.
Utah’s Ready to Weather the Storm
With so many businesses closed, Utah has seen a historic spike in unemployment claims, like the rest of the nation. Utah’s Department of Workforce Services reported that over the week of March 15 to March 21, there were 19,591 new unemployment filings – an astounding 1,391% increase compared to the previous week. Utah’s unemployment rate was at a historic low of 2.3% just a few months ago, but it’s now predicted to rise into the low double-digits, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Despite all the gloomy news, Utah residents and workers should feel safe compared to other states in the U.S. In a recent blog post, the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute said Utah is ready to manage the economic impact of COVID-19 perhaps better than any state in the nation.
We will delve into COVID-19’s impact on Utah’s economy and job market and let you know which industries are being hit the hardest, what state resources are available if you’re financially hurting, and how Utah is planning to manage the economic impact of the pandemic.
Utah Industries & Areas Hit the Hardest
Like the rest of the nation, the Utah industries hit hardest by the pandemic are the ones that have been essentially closed because of social distancing guidelines. In Utah, those industries include hospitality, food services, office and administrative jobs, and tourism.
Utah’s Department of Workforce Services reported that the three industries that accounted for the largest share of the most recent unemployment filings were Food Preparation and Serving (37%), Office and Administrative Support (9.3%), and Management (8.6%).
Restaurants and food service have been especially hard hit in Utah and the rest of the U.S. Utah’s governor closed all dine-in restaurants and establishments on March 16, allowing only drive-thru, pick up, and delivery options.
Utah’s tourism and hospitality industries have suffered a huge negative impact. Visit Salt Lake’s CEO told KSL News Radio recently that several organizers have canceled planned events in Utah and Salt Lake City, as organizations scramble to comply with state and national restrictions on travel and public gatherings.
The pandemic’s economic impact has affected certain counties in Utah more than others. Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Washington, and Weber have been the hardest hit counties in terms of unemployment filings, according to the Department of Workforce Services. All these counties are among Utah’s most urbanized areas.
Financial Help is Available
If you still have a job right now, you’re one of the lucky ones. As we just described, many Utah workers may be unemployed or soon face unemployment because of the pandemic. However, Utah officials have assured state residents that financial relief from the state is available.
Utah’s Department of Workforce Services (DWS) is urging workers who lost their jobs recently to apply for unemployment insurance benefits right away. Many Utah workers may not be able to return to their jobs until COVID-19 is contained, even though their employers have kept their jobs open. DWS is considering these workers as “job attached,” meaning they can still file for and collect unemployment benefits while they’re companies are temporarily closed or not as busy because of the pandemic.
DWS usually takes about 21 days to process an unemployment claim, but the agency said it’s working to expedite claims during this challenging time. Officials said financially strapped workers should also look to DWS for other benefits, such as childcare, food stamps, and other assistance programs. DWS is advising workers to file for benefits online so they can reduce the huge volume of phone calls the agency is receiving.
One last bit of good news: Utah’s governor said the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund is at an all-time high of $1.17 billion for this fiscal year. It’s another indication that Utah’s government is well-positioned to weather the COVID-19 crisis and take care of workers who have been negatively affected.
Why Utah is Prepared
As a worker and job seeker, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed many of us in a tough situation. Many people are rightfully concerned about their health, but they’re also worried about the pandemic’s economic impact. As we just described, Utah’s expansion of unemployment benefits is just one of the ways state officials are ensuring that workers don’t needlessly suffer.
Recent blog posts from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah can also help Utah residents calm their anxieties about the pandemic’s economic effect. A recent blog post from the Institute said that even if the state’s economy contracts, Utah is “well-positioned to protect public services like education, public safety, transportation, and public health and social safety-net programs.”
The blog post mentions that Utah’s government has more than $1 billion in “working rainy day funds.” If the state’s economy does contract, this large funding reserve will help Utah avoid drastic budget cuts, the Institute said.
The CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce also said Utah’s economy will be poised to bounce back after COVID-19 is controlled. He told KSL News Radio recently that Utah’s highly skilled workforce, low taxes, and low regulatory barriers are the economic fundamentals that’ll once again lead to robust job growth once the pandemic is over.
Utah’s Economic Plan for COVID-19
Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently unveiled a three-stage plan to guide the state’s economy through the COVID-19 crisis. The plan is estimated to last between six and a half and nine months and contains strategies to expand medical testing, lower coronavirus transmission rates, and help the economy stabilize and recover.
The plan directs Utah residents to abide by strict social distancing guidelines during the first phase of eight to 12 weeks. The plan also calls for massive economic stimulus from the Utah government to help jobless residents, delay tax burdens, and provide loans to businesses and nonprofits.
Utah’s plan predicts the final and third phase of the plan to be around late October and possibly into early December, as expanded testing and medical help will have by then slowed COVID-19 transmission rates to nearly zero. Officials said pent-up demand in the state’s economy would come on strong by this time and lead to Utah re-emerging as one of the strongest job markets and state economies in the U.S.
Advancing in Uncertain Times
For now, there’s only so much Utah workers can do when it comes to their job-seeking prospects. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid a hurting on the U.S. economy and even Utah’s strong economy has been severely affected.
The federal government’s recent passage of a massive economic stimulus package will help many workers nationwide survive financially during these trying times. In Utah, the state’s good economic standing and practices, including a very healthy budget reserve, will ensure that public services don’t face drastic cuts and a variety of workers receive unemployment and other types of financial assistance.
As we explained in an article last week, Utah residents can take some matters into their own hands when it comes to their job search during the pandemic. Many companies in Utah may shed jobs because of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, but there may be rare opportunities you can find.
Amazon recently announced plans to hire 100,000 workers nationwide, for instance. Other types of jobs are also in high demand because of the pandemic, such as positions in healthcare, crisis communications, data specialists, researchers and scientists, and jobs at businesses deemed “essential,” such as grocery stores.
If you’re a Utah resident and you decide to file for unemployment benefits, use your time on unemployment wisely. Take online courses to beef up your skills to advance your career or practice video interviews. Also, don’t assume every company has stopped hiring. Continue sending out resumes and applications, as not every company is going to freeze hiring.
During unemployment, it’s also a great time to work on your resume and LinkedIn profile, which Empire Resume can help you with. Lastly, the best way to help bring Utah’s economy back to its strongest level is to follow the advice of state government officials. Practice social distancing, help your community in safe ways and get your news from reliable sources.
Stay updated on COVID-19’s impact on the workplace in Utah and the rest of the U.S. by checking Empire Resume’s blog in the next few weeks. We will cover a variety of topics and give you the best advice on how to continue your job search and advance your career during these uncertain times.
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.