Economic Snapshot - November 2020

Economic growth continues in spite of adverse conditions

Robert Spendlove and Drew Maggelet Nov 13, 2020

United States

The US labor market showed surprising strength in October, with 638,000 jobs added last month. The unemployment rate also reflected strength, dropping to 6.9% in October, from 7.9% in September. Labor force participation increased to 61.7%, at the high end of expectations. All but two sectors grew month over month, with leisure and hospitality (+271,000); professional and business services (+208,000); and trade, transportation, and utilities (+172,000) adding the most jobs. Only the government (-268,000) and information (-3,000) sectors lost jobs month to month. Consumer confidence and inflation continued to rise in October but remained below pre-pandemic levels. While the economy remains constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic, October employment data reflects an encouraging resilience in the US workforce.


Utah’s economic recovery remains near the best in the nation. The Beehive State is the second closest state to recovering to its 2019 economic levels, with employment declining only 1% over the last year. While the unemployment rate rose from 4.1% to 5% in September, the uptick is a side effect of the highest labor force participation rate in three years at 68.8%. Utah lost 14,800 jobs over the past year, with the construction (+7,500); trade, transportation, and utilities (+6,900); and other services (+3,300) sectors gaining the most jobs. Leisure and hospitality (-24,300); education and health services (-5,200); and professional and business services (-4,500) lost the most jobs year over year. Annual housing price growth continues to speed up, rising from 7.9% in August to 8.5% in September.


The Idaho labor market experienced a slight backslide in September. While the Gem State has come within 0.5% away of a full return to 2019 employment levels, the unemployment rate spiked, rising to 6.1% in September. Fortunately, this rise appears to be due to more Idahoans entering the workforce, as the Idaho labor force participation rate rose to 65.1% in September; its highest level in more than 10 years. Idaho lost 3,600 jobs over the past year, with the trade, transportation and utilities (+4,300); financial activities (+2,600); and construction (+1,400) sectors gaining the most jobs. Leisure and hospitality (-3,800); education and health services (-3,300); and government (-2,900) lost the most jobs year over year. Idaho housing price growth was the highest in the nation at 11.4%.

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