Data released by the Utah Department of Workforce Services indicates that the change in nonfarm employment in Utah was the worst in Garfield County in April and second worst in Grand County.
Because of the seasonal nature of employment around the country, employment figures are typically compared between the same month in different years. As such, the latest figures compare April 2019 employment with April 2020 employment.
Among Utah’s 29 counties, Garfield, Grand and Summit had the largest drops in employment between April 2019 and April 2020. The drop in employment in Grand was so severe that, even after jobs numbers increased from February to March as businesses geared up for tourism season, April employment was lower than it had been over the winter.
Summit County, which has been among the hardest hit in the state by COVID-19 cases — alongside San Juan County, where Native American communities have been particularly stricken by the pandemic — saw a -18.3% change in employment in April 2020 compared to that time the prior year. In Grand, the change was -18.6%, and in Garfield, it was -19.4%.
The figures confirm earlier estimates that roughly one in five to one in six jobs in Grand County have been lost to COVID-19.
Local government employees have not escaped cost-cutting measures. The City of Moab announced Thursday, May 21 its second round of layoffs, resulting in dozens of people losing their jobs. Grand County has furloughed 18 full-time employees and eight part-timers.
The impact on the number of employment opportunities from Moab’s phased reopening, which began May 1, remains to be seen. Official Grand County employment data from May will not be available until this time next month. Local lodging businesses recently reported seeing relatively few reservations compared to what the Southeast Utah Health Department and Gov. Gary Herbert have allowed, although reservations for Memorial Day Weekend were higher.