Utah's economy continues to strengthen and is picking up accolades in the process.
On Wednesday, the American Legislative Exchange Council released its fourth annual Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, which ranks Utah #1 for the fourth year in a row with the "best economic outlook in the nation". Written by supply-side economists Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams, the report attributes Utah's #1 economic outlook to its economic policies and notes the strong correlation between a state's economic performance and its policies toward taxes, debt, and regulation.
Utah leads all other states in the index for:
- Gross State Product Growth 62.2%
- Personal Income Growth 59.8%
- Personal Income Per Capita Growth 35.2%
- Population Growth 24.1%
Utah Tech Sector
On Tuesday, EDCUtah released a project memorandum to its investors announcing that IM Flash and EMC Corp. will expand their respective Utah operations, adding 700 new, high paying jobs to the Utah economy. The new jobs not only bode well for Utah's electronics and IT sectors, but also for the state's rising exports. "Last year, electronics accounted for nearly $2 billion -- mostly from IM Flash -- of Utah's $13.6 billion in exports," according to EE Times. Here are some more interesting figures about Utah's tech sector from the Utah Technology Council:
- Utah is home to approximately 6,000 technology companies: 53.9 percent are in Salt Lake County; 20.3 percent are in Utah County; 8 percent are in Davis County. Interestingly, Washington County owns the greatest increase in technology companies, recording an increase of 10 percent in 2010.
- Utah's tech industries employ more than 76,000 Utahns with an average salary that is 62 percent higher than the average non agricultural wage.
- In 2010 Utah exported more than $1.8B in computer and electronic parts and more than $564M in medical device products.
- Utah is 27.2 percent higher than the national average in technology organizations per capita, based upon data compiled from the 2008-2009 Workforce Data Report.
- Utah is 20.9 percent above national average for tech employment per capita, as compared with other western states and with the U.S. overall.
- In 2009, Utah's technology firms produced more than $4.5B in wages for the state; Information Technology (IT) accounted for more than $3B in Utah wages with $1.5B in Life Sciences wages.
In another important event this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday released its Enterprising States study, which places Utah among the top ten states in four of six categories. "Some states, like Texas and Utah, are strong across the board in both economic policies -- and economic results," the study said. The Beehive State ranked second in exports, third overall for entrepreneurship and innovation, seventh in workforce and training, and 10th in favorable taxes and regulation. Here is the U.S. Chamber's take on Utah in each category, as reported by the Salt Lake Chamber:
Utah ranks 2nd in Exports
Utah continues to be a leader in export measures, with exports up 45 percent since 2009. (Editor's note: The Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Utah released a new study this week that says Utah exports sustain 75,721 full and part-time jobs -- an increase of more than 20,000 jobs since 2007. Further, Utah exported $13.6 billion in merchandise in 2010 -- a 31 percent increase over 2009's record -- and the state is on pace to do even better this year. The BEBR study was written by research analyst John C. Downen.)
Utah ranks 3rd in Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Utah's top ranking in net business birth rate helps it move up five places to third in innovation and entrepreneurship this year. The state ranks no worse than 18th in any metric and is sixth in small business lending activity, ninth in STEM job concentration and ninth in high-tech business concentration. Utah is making investments in research commercialization infrastructure with its Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative and offers an outreach and business assistance program for technology companies.
Utah is tied for 7th for Workforce and Training
Utah ranks in the top 10 in higher education productivity and affordability, and 25th in educational attainment of its young workforce. In order to help drive innovation and attract high-tech firms to the state, Governor Gary Herbert's administration has set a goal to expand the number of citizens with degrees and professional certifications to 66 percent of adults by 2020. The governor has also called for an increased focus on science, engineering, and math careers in the state's educational system.
Utah ranks 10th in Taxes and Regulation
Utah ranks in the top 17 in four of our five tax and regulation measures, landing it in 10th place. The Beehive State recently launched an advisory committee to optimize its state government. Comprised of public and private sector experts, the committee made over 50 recommendations, including calling for review of regulatory processes that impact businesses in the state. Greater coordination between regulatory agencies was identified as a way to maintain a business-friendly environment and avoid harmful duplication of services and unneeded red-tape.
"Clearly, Utah is being recognized for its solid financial footing, business-friendly environment, fantastic workforce and excellent quality of life. That's not to say our economy is firing on all cylinders," says EDCUtah President & CEO Jeff Edwards, "but we are making great progress and seeing positive results."