Utah will continue to have solid economic growth, positive labor market performance, and continued net in-migration in 2016, according to the latest Economic Report to the Governor.
The report, released today and presented to Gov. Gary Herbert at the Salt Lake Chamber’s annual Utah Economic Review, documents Utah’s stellar economic performance in 2015 and forecasts another favorable year for the Utah economy. The full 140-page Online Compendium is available by clicking here.
“Utah led the nation in job growth in 2015, a signal that economic opportunity may be better in Utah than in any state,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and the co-chair of the Utah Economic Council, which prepared the report. “Much of this growth was fueled by significant growth in Utah’s technology, construction, and leisure and hospitality sectors,” said Tennert.
Utah led the nation in job growth for seven months and ranked second the remaining five months. Here are other top-level statistics from the report:
- Technology – Utah lived up to the nickname “Silicon Slopes” with impressive 7.7 percent growth in the information sector.
- Construction – Permit -authorized construction reached its highest level in eight years with major projects downtown and at the nexus of Utah’s two largest counties.
- Leisure and hospitality – Utah’s leisure and hospitality industry added 7,900 jobs. Park City’s expansion created the largest ski resort in the country. This, combined with Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks, prompted Fodor’s Travel to name Utah the top travel destination of the year.
- Exports – Utah’s merchandise exports continued to diversify with four percent year-over growth in non-gold exports. Utah exports support more than 50,000 jobs.
- Financial activities – Major employers like Goldman Sachs added a total of 2,600 jobs in the financial activities sector helping Utah earn a reputation as “Wall Street of the West.”
- Income – Median household income is growing at 2.6 percent in Utah, compared to 1.0 percent nationally.
The Utah economy is not without headwinds in 2016. Geopolitical instability, the global slowdown, normalization of monetary policy, and supply of workers will continue to create uncertainty and reason for caution. In addition, education warning signs and persistent air quality challenges continue to concern economists.
“There are things we can and cannot control that impact the economy,” said Natalie Gochnour, associate dean of the David Eccles School of Business and member of the Utah Economic Council. “Many of our greatest risks come from the outside – Federal Reserve policies, global economic conditions, energy prices, and geopolitics. Education and air quality have been identified by the Utah Economic Council as two areas where we can make a difference in Utah’s future economic performance.”
The consensus forecast calls for an economy with room to run in 2016, fueled by low motor-fuel prices, strong consumer spending, demographic advantages, new construction, and an attractive business climate. Economists forecast net in-migration, steady job and wage growth, low unemployment, and low levels of inflation in 2016. All going well, Utah’s economy will once again be one of the top performing economies in the country.
About the Economic Report to the Governor
The Economic Report is a collaborative endeavor between the David Eccles School of Business, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and the Utah Economic Council. In addition to the Eccles School and Governor’s Office, major contributors include the Utah Department of Workforce Services, Utah State Tax Commission, Utah State Office of Education, Utah System of Higher Education, Utah Geological Survey, Economic Development Corporation of Utah, Utah Foundation, Utah Farm Bureau, and Utah Nonprofits Association. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute compiles the report.
New this Year: Utah Informed
This year the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber, released the inaugural edition of Utah Informed. It contains what editors of the book call a “visual intellection.” Each page includes a compelling table, chart, idea, or schematic presented in a way that will help readers carefully consider a topic. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion, clarify a fact, and, ultimately, help people make informed decisions.