By Will McDermott
What the locals say
Utah’s economy is humming right along.
Utah, sometimes called the Beehive State because of it industrious residents,
was named the 2016 Top State for Business by business-news network CNBC.
This was the state’s eighth top-five finish in the 10 years that CNBC has
calculated the rankings.
One big reason for Utah’s No. 1 showing in 2016 was its strong economy,
which ranked third in the nation in CNBC’s analysis, with 2.8 percent growth
in gross domestic product, a healthy housing market, robust technology
sector and strong consumer spending.
In fact, retail sales hit an all-time high in the state, according to a 2016 report
by Cushman & Wakefield. Utah saw $27.8 billion in retail sales in 2015, which
bettered the inflation-adjusted 2007 record of $27.6 billion. The state’s residents spent an average of $9,280 per person in 2015, a 17. 6 percent increase
over the 2011 low point of $7,892 per capita spending.
The Beehive state’s economy kept humming throughout 2016 as well,
according to a 2017 economic report prepared for the governor by the Utah
Economic Council (UEC). The UEC report stated that “every major sector
expanded in 2016, contributing a total of 49,500 new jobs over the year.”
Utah’s employment grew by 3. 6 percent in 2016, more than double the
national average and higher than other tech-centric economic powerhouses
such as California and Washington.
Much of Utah’s prosperity can be attributed to a young and highly educated
workforce. The median age of Utah residents is 30.1, according to the U.S.
Census Bureau. This median age is the lowest in the country, according to
the UEC report. In addition, Utah ranks number one in the nation based on
the percentage of its population under age 18, and it ranks 49th based on
the percentage of residents over the age of 65, according to the UEC report.
More than 91 percent of these young Utah residents have earned at least
a high school diploma, according to the Census Bureau, which is almost 5
percentage points higher than the national average. Salt Lake City, one of
the main job centers in the state, is a highly educated city, with 43.1 percent
of residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is more than double the 21. 8 percent rate for the average American community, according
to Neighborhood Scout.
Whether this young, educated workforce is the result or cause of the tech
explosion in and around Salt Lake City that has garnered the area the nickname of “Silicon Slopes” is immaterial. The state’s tech industry is booming
there, which has venture capitalists flocking to the state to invest in energy,
software and medical device companies in the state, according to the CNBC
report. In fact, the report stated that some $732 million in venture capital
was invested in Utah businesses in 2015. This number topped $1 billion in
2016, according to the Deseret News. n
Home sales and prices
Home sales and prices have been on the rise in Utah since 2010. That year
saw a little more than 30,000 home sales and a median home price for
the year of $190,000. By 2016, Utah home sales increased by 63. 6 percent,
to 49,399, and the median sales price had increased by 29. 5 percent,
The hottest Utah markets are Salt Lake City, Ogden and Provo-Orem.
Both Salt Lake and Ogden made Zillow’s list of the 10 hottest markets in
2016, while Salt Lake and Provo-Orem were both in the top 20 markets
listed in Realtor.com’s 2017 housing forecast. Realtor.com predicts home
prices in Salt Lake City and Provo-Orem will increase by 6. 7 percent and
5.2 percent, respectively, this year and that home sales will increase by
about 5 percent in both markets.
Utah Home Sales
Source: Utah Association of Realtors
Home sales Median sales price
Primary Residential Mortgage Inc.
“Utah has grown faster than any other state — as a percentage
— especially along the Wasatch Front from Provo to Ogden.
A number of large tech companies have come in. Forbes
recently did an article nicknaming Salt Lake City as “Silicon Slopes”
because of all of these new tech companies. All of these high-paying, high-tech jobs coming into the valley has created
demand and put an extreme crunch on the [housing] supply there.”