Economic Snapshot - February 2020

Employment growth sped up in January, while the labor force participation rate ticked up to its highest rate since 2013.

Robert Spendlove and Drew Maggelet Feb 14, 2020

United States

The U.S. labor market started the year off strong in January, adding 225,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remained strong, rising slightly to 3.6 percent — up from an all-time low in December at 3.5 percent. Employment growth was unchanged at 1.4 percent. The labor force participation rate rose to 63.4 percent — the highest participation rate since 2013. Annual wage growth stabilized, growing 3.1 percent year-over-year. Over the previous 12 months, the education and health services (+630,000), professional and business services (+390,000) and leisure and hospitality (+320,000) sectors experienced the largest job gains. Only the natural resources and mining sector (-33,000) experienced a decline in employment. Economic growth stayed steady in the fourth quarter of 2019 at 2.1 percent. The Consumer Confidence Index rose, increasing from 128.2 in December to 131.6 in January.


Utah’s labor market growth remains the strongest in the nation. In December, the state’s year-over-year employment growth clocked in at 3.1 percent — the highest rate in the country. Utah’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.3 percent, which is the lowest unemployment rate the state has ever had. Utah added 50,400 jobs over the past year, with the education and health services (+12,400), construction (+9,700), and professional and business services (+7,500) sectors adding the largest number of employees. No sector lost jobs year-over-year. Despite slowing in the housing market, Utah housing price growth remains above the national average at 5.4 percent.


Idaho’s labor market growth is speeding up. The state’s year-over-year employment growth increased from 2.6 percent in November to 2.9 percent in December — the second highest rate in the nation. The unemployment rate remains well below the national average at 2.9 percent. Idaho added 21,100 jobs over the past year, with the professional and business services (+7,000), education and health services (+3,300), and manufacturing (+2,400) sectors experiencing the largest employment gains. The natural resources and mining (-200) and other services (-200) sectors were the only sectors to lose jobs year over year. Despite some slowing, home prices in Idaho continue to rise at the fastest rate in the nation. In December, the median home value rose by 9.8 percent from the year before versus 3.7 percent nationally.

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