Park City-area unemployment rate drops below 5% for first time in more than a year |

Park City-area unemployment rate drops below 5% for first time in more than a year

The economic comeback continued in March, but shoulder season numbers loom

The unemployment rate in Summit County dropped below 5% in March for the first time in more than a year, signaling further improvement in the job market even as the number remains well above the rate in the years immediately before the spread of the novel coronavirus jolted the economy.

The state Department of Workforce Services reported the rate in Summit County in March was 4.8%. The figure fell from a downwardly revised 5% in February. The initial reading in February put the rate at 5.5%.

The 4.8% rate in March was an improvement from the same month a year earlier, when the rate was 6.3%. The rate in March of 2020 likely reflected early concerns about the pandemic’s impacts on the economy before the rate soared the next month.

The March reading was the last taken during a full month of the ski season. Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort each ended the ski season in April. March appeared to be a solid month for Park City’s tourism economy, with some of the largest crowds of the winter seen in the community.

Much of the hiring for the ski season, though, would have already occurred by the time the tally was taken for March. It is not clear what sort of further improvement could be expected in coming months since the community has entered the spring shoulder season.

The summer-tourism season, typically starting in June but reaching its busiest stretch in July and August, meanwhile, usually does not require widespread hiring like the ski season.

The employment market has mounted an impressive comeback since the early months of the pandemic. The rate in Summit County soared to 21.4% in April of 2020, in the weeks after the coronavirus forced an early end to the ski season and a broad business shutdown. The number consistently dropped starting the next month.

The last time the figure was below 5% in Summit County was the 4.2% recorded in January of 2020. The Sundance Film Festival — a major temporary employment generator — unfolded that month in the usual manner in the weeks before the worries about the coronavirus became more pronounced.

The unemployment rate in Wasatch County in March was 3.6%, dropping slightly from the month before. The rate in the neighboring county is of note since the Park City economic sphere of influence reaches into that county.

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