Utah economy expected to continue to prosper in 2017

Utah image by stock_art / DigitalVision Vectors, composite by St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s economic expansion is expected to continue in 2017, according to the latest “Economic Report to the Governor.”

The report, released Wednesday and presented to Gov. Gary Herbert at the Salt Lake Chamber’s annual Utah Economic Review, documents Utah’s strong economic performance in 2016 and forecasts another favorable year for Utah.

“Utah’s economic performance was among the strongest in the nation in 2016,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy research at the David Eccles School of Business’ Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and the co-chair of the Utah Economic Council, which prepared the report. “Our state added jobs at more than twice the pace of the nation, and our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than eight years. We expect that growth will moderate in 2017, but Utah’s economy will continue to be a top performer among states.”

Highlights from the report:

  • Employment – Utah added an estimated 49,500 jobs in 2016. Its 3.6 percent employment growth was more than double the national rate of 1.7 percent. All major sectors posted job growth.
  • Population – Utah’s population surpassed the 3 million mark in 2016. Net in-migration of just over 24,000 was the most in 10 years and contributed to 40 percent of the state’s total population growth.
  • Construction – The construction sector posted the highest job growth in 2016, 6.8 percent, fueled by both robust residential and commercial activity. The value of commercial construction reached a record $2.5 billion in 2016.
  • Leisure and hospitality – The leisure and hospitality sector posted 6.1 percent job growth in 2016, fueled by low unemployment and rising wages for Utahns, along with growth in travel and tourism activity; Utah’s ski resorts and national parks hosted a record number of visitors in 2016.

The Utah economy is not without headwinds in 2017. Potential changes in federal trade policies, geopolitical instability, 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 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.”

Demographic advantages, an appealing business climate and increasing labor-force participation will continue to be an advantage for the Utah economy in 2017. Potential expansionary federal fiscal policy, including tax cuts and infrastructure spending, also present an upside risk.

All going well, Utah’s economy will once again be one of the top-performing economies in the nation in the coming year.

The data and summary documents can be viewed here:

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, Utah Nonprofits Association, CBRE, World Trade Center Utah and Zions Bank. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute compiles the report.

Utah informed
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber, released the latest 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.

About the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah enhances Utah’s economy by placing data-driven research into the hands of decision makers. Housed within the David Eccles School of Business, its mission is to develop and share economic, demographic and public policy data and research that help community leaders make informed decisions. Located at the newly restored Thomas S. Monson Center on South Temple Street, the Gardner Policy Institute serves as a vital gathering place and center for independent economic, demographic and public policy thought leadership. Learn more at gardner.utah.edu or by calling 801-587-3717.

About the David Eccles School of Business
Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers eight undergraduate majors, four MBAs, five other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in seven areas and executive education curricula. The Eccles School is also home to seven institutes and centers that deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. The University of Utah is consistently one of the top schools in the nation for startup businesses based on university research. Applied learning is central to the Eccles experience. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.

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