The Utah economy added 32,000 net new jobs during the most recent 12-month period, a 2.6% growth pace. Recent data now suggests the Utah economy has regained roughly half of the jobs lost in late 2008 through early 2010 resulting from the nation’s and Utah’s most serious recessions since the Great Depression.
A favorable development within the Utah economy is the increasing diversification of employment. Five major employment sectors have added at least 5,000 net new jobs during the past 12 months manufacturing; trade, transportation & utilities; professional & business services; education & health services; and leisure & hospitality.
In addition, the Utah natural resources sector added 800 net new jobs, a growth pace of 7.3%. Such diversification bodes well for Utah in coming years to help absorb shocks to any one sector. The state will also benefit in 2012 and 2013 as additional employment activity is recorded in the residential home construction sector, an area where thousands of jobs were lost during the past four years.
The state’s unemployment rate declined to 7.0% in the latest month. Such a rate compares favorably to the 9.0% average U.S. unemployment rate of the past three years, as well as various months early in 2010 where Utah’s rate reached 8.0%. However, the current 7.0% rate pales versus the 2.8% average Utah rate during 2006 and 2007. We do anticipate measurable declines in the Utah unemployment rate during 2012 and 2013.
TOP RANKED BUSINESS
Utah continues to do very well when compared to the 49 other states as an attractive place to live, work, recreate, and raise a family. Forbes magazine ranked Utah #1 in the nation (for the second year in a row) as the best state in the U.S. for doing business and establishing a successful career. “No state can match the consistent performance of Utah,” noted the article.
The survey measured such components as business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Utah’s moderate overall cost of doing business, including much lower energy costs, contributed to the top ranking. In addition, the state continues to rank at or near the top as being the best managed state in the nation.
TOP RANKED SKIING
Deer Valley Resort was recently named North America’s top ski resort (for the fifth straight year) by readers of Ski magazine. Three other Utah resorts: Park City Mountain Resort, the Canyons, and Snowbird, ranked among the top 20 resorts. When considering the quality of snow, Utah resorts claimed six of the top 10 spots. In addition, Park City Mountain Resort ranked first as a “family vacation” destination.
The state’s oil and natural gas sector has performed well in recent years. For the first time there are more than 10,000 producing oil and gas wells in the state, according to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. Utah currently ranks 11th in the nation in crude oil production and ninth in natural gas production.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a cover story entitled “Where the Action Is.” It reviewed seven communities across the nation where industry hubs are drawing entrepreneurs and investors. The only community mentioned in the Western U.S. was Ogden, Utah. The article reviewed the growth of the outdoor sports gear industry, where “manufacturers are pouring into this small city, lured by easy access to Olympic facilities and pristine terrain for testing products.”
A recent story in The Salt Lake Tribune noted the significant growth that could soon occur in the state’s aerospace and high-tech manufacturing industry. Three companies already doing business in Utah could soon expand their investment and employment substantially to take advantage of solid demand for their products and a business-friendly Utah economy.
UTAH IN 2012
The state’s economy is expected to continue the rebuilding process in place for the past two years. Increasing diversification of Utah employers, combined with high regard for Utah as a place to do business, bodes well for Utah and its residents for years to come.
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