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Not all geographic areas in Utah are the same. Urban and rural distinctions abound and industry makeup plays a part. Therefore, different usage patterns arise in filings for unemployment insurance claims. Different parts of the state show different levels of usage, and each area has its own distinct explanation.
For example, a high amount of unemployment insurance activity surfaces in eastern Utah, specifically Uintah County. This is an economy heavily dependent on natural gas production. There was a period covering most of 2009 in which energy prices collapsed and employment levels fell off noticeably. As a result, this county experienced a pocket of high unemployment insurance usage (this includes Roosevelt in Duchesne County for the same reason).
Another area with high usage is Washington County in the state’s southwest corner. This area was hit hard by the housing price bubble. Its sunbelt features and proximity to Las Vegas drove in-migration and resultant housing speculation. The end result was a sharply collapsing construction sector and an unprecedented three-year period of job loss. Claims counts soared in this region, an event that is much out of the ordinary for this normally high-flying economy. These events also impacted Iron County, Washington County’s neighbor to the north.
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