The strong Utah economy remains clearly evident as the state leads the nation with a 4.5 percent annual gain in employment, according to the latest numbers released Sept. 25 by the U.S. Department of Labor. Montana and Wyoming followed behind at 3.4 percent and Kansas at 3.3 percent.
Utah also is among just four states with an unemployment rate below 3 percent: only 2.6 percent, second behind Idaho which recorded a 2.4 percent rate. The others were Hawaii at 2.6 percent and Montana at 2.8 percent.
And, the state’s chief economist believes Utah will likely continue to be among the nation’s leaders in job growth even as other states struggle to manage through the fallout spurred by a downturn in the housing market and uncertainties about the sub-prime home mortgage market. Mark Knold, in a recent state publication, noted that while the state is not immune from the effects of sub-prime lending, the combination of a housing market rooted in defined economic realities rather than speculative development and excess investment and a job and wage market where incomes are rising will cushion any negative effects.
The state also should benefit from continued nonresidential construction growth. He adds: “Therefore, there are still a lot of nonresidential projects to build, and that will be the sustaining factor of the next two years. When nonresidential construction is finished playing catch-up to all the residential building of the past three years, then the Utah construction industry may pause to catch its breath. But that seems to be a few years away.”
Utah’s rate far outstrips the national employment growth rate of just 1.5 percent. Notably, states in the Midwest industrial corridor — Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin — are experiencing declines.
It remains nearly impossible for business operators these days to find any sizable amount of top-of-the-line office space in downtown Salt Lake City.
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