The idea that Southern Utah has a housing shortage is not even debatable at this point.

In fact, hundreds of Southern Utah residents are without a secure place to live and many others (perhaps thousands) would love to live here, but can't afford it the price of housing in Washington County.

The median price of a home in Washington County is $525,000.

But to call it a simple problem (just build more affordable houses) is naïve.

In an effort to educate the public and explore new ideas, five of Southern Utah's mayors are holding a public meeting this week.

The Mayors of several cities and towns in Washington County will converge at Dixie Technical College on Thursday, Jun. 27 at 8 a.m. for the first-ever Doing Our Part: Facilitating Attainable Housing. This two-hour forum will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Highlighting local successes and trends in attainable housing.
  • The infrastructure and public services required to accommodate growth.
  • NIMBYism and political challenges local city and town councils face.
  • How impact fees are established and what they are used to pay for.
  • Sorting through the bevy of legislative changes adopted each year.
  • Exploring the challenges resort communities face. 

Following a brief introduction, five Mayors will participate in a panel discussion: Michele Randall (St. George), Kress Staheli (Washington), Rick Rosenberg (Santa Clara), Chris Hart (Santa Clara) and Barbara Bruno (Springdale).

Following their discussion, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Mayor Staheli will close out the forum with a call to action.

“Too often, the narrative about housing in our state is that cities and towns are impeding supply due to their zoning ordinances and that the State of Utah needs to step in. That simply is not true for us in Southern Utah,” said St. George Mayor Michele Randall. “We have been working hard to facilitate attainable housing, and we are eager to show you the strides we have made.”

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Utah Boasts One Of Nation's Lowest Unemployment Rates

There are only three states in America with lower unemployment rates than Utah.

In a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Utah was rated to have an unemployment rate of just 2.4 percent.

That's low -- really low. Basically, if you want a job in the Beehive State, you should be able to find one.

Two states, the Dakotas (North and South) come in with the low, low rate of just 2.1 percent, and a third state, Nebraska, is at 2.3 percent.

The national average is just over four percent, with some of the worst states being California (4.3), Delaware (4.6), Illinois (4.5), Oregon (4.7), Pennsylvania (4.4) and Washington (4.6).

But there is one king when it comes to people out of work. Nevada checks in at a whopping 5.5 percent unemployment. Utah's neighbor sees this as a growing problem.

These numbers are based on the amount of unemployment claims filed, so it may be that Nevada is just better at making claims and processing them, but the fact of the matter is Nevada officials have noted that the problem is serious enough throw $72-million into its unemployment system.

But even Nevada's relatively high number is nothing compared with some historical unemployment issues that we've had in the United States.

Unemployment reached 25 percent during the great depression (1930s) and more recently, the USA has seen some spikes in unemployment.

It was as high as 14.7 percent in 2020 during the heart of the Covid-19 pandemic and was at 10.8 percent in late 1982.

Still, it would be nice if everyone who wanted a job could get one.

During World War I, US unemployment was just one percent and was about 1.2 percent during the second world war.

In more modern times, the nation had just 3.6 percent unemployment in 2023.

Wiki defines unemployment as

  • If they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.
  • Workers expecting to be recalled from layoff are sometimes counted as unemployed, depending on the specific interviewer. They are expected to be counted whether or not they have engaged in a specific job-seeking activity.
  • In all other cases, the individual must have been engaged in at least one active job search activity in the 4 weeks preceding the interview and be available for work (except for temporary illness) in order to be counted as unemployed.
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