Utah Economy Faring Better Than Nation

Guest post by Dale Gunther

Economists know that Utah typically grows more rapidly than the nation after recessions, and this recovery is no exception. While other states in the nation still struggle with lackluster economies, Utah’s is burgeoning, as evidenced by statistics from the July Economic Summary of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Budgeting:

Jobs: Utah’s nonagricultural employment increased an estimated 2.6 percent, or 32,000 jobs, between June 2011 and June 2012. Nationally, employment increased 1.4 percent, or 1.8 million jobs, from June 2011 and June 2012. Jobs are important, because consumer spending is responsible for approximately 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

Unemployment: Utah’s unemployment rate was 6.0 percent during June 2012, lower than the June 2011 unemployment rate of 6.9 percent. The national unemployment rate was 8.2 percent in June 2012, lower than the June 2011 rate of 9.1 percent.

Total Personal Income: Utah’s total personal income reached $97.4 billion in first quarter of 2012. The change of 3.9 percent from first quarter 2011 was eighth in the nation. National change in personal income over the same period was 2.9 percent.

Home Prices—According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) House Price Appreciation Ranking, Utah’s house prices were up 3 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from first quarter of 2011. This ranks Utah eighth in the nation.

Utah is also ranking first in some leading economic studies. In late 2011, Utah was named for the second consecutive time by Forbes as the Best State for Business. It was the only state that ranked among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories rated: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life.

Further, in June 2012, Forbes ranked Provo the #1 Best Place for Business and Careers due to a $16-billion economy thriving on the back of Brigham young University, which is generating start-up jobs through university research and providing a stabilizing presence as the country’s  third-largest private college based on enrollment. Job growth was also a robust 3 percent in the Provo metro area in 2011—the third best in the U.S.—with a population that has doubled over the past two decades to 542,700.

While the rest of the country ekes out a shaky recovery, Utah is poised to remain a leader in state economic growth. The outlook for the rest of the year calls for employment to increase 2.5 percent for the year as a whole, with larger increases as the year progresses. Housing permits are predicted to increase as well.

What does this mean for you? It means it’s time to be optimistic. Utah is faring well, which means its residents are reaping the benefits of more and better jobs, improving incomes and a competitive marketplace. It’s time to breathe a sigh of relief that Utahns have once again tapped into the can-do pioneer spirit and that the Beehive state will continue to be an economic leader in the coming years.

Dale Gunther is vice chairman of the board of People’s Utah Bancorp, the holding company for Bank of American Fork, which is an SBA-Preferred Lender, Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. At the start of his 16-year tenure as CEO at Bank of American Fork, the bank had two branches and $80 million in assets; it now has 13 offices and more than $880 million in assets. Dale has served as chairman of the Utah Bankers Association and currently serves as an American Fork city councilman. This article should not be considered legal or investment advice. Seek legal and investment advice from your own qualified professional.

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