Impact of globalization on Utah widespread and nearly all positive, new study shows

New research from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute concludes that on the whole, the Utah economy is larger and more prosperous because of globalization.

Data on Utah¹s foreign born, refugee resettlement, international travel, and international students also reinforce the positive economic impacts of globalization on the state economy.

³While some may portray free trade and open borders as threatening, the data suggest such a negative view is not warranted for Utah,² said Jim Wood, Ivory-Boyer senior fellow at the Gardner Institute and author of the study. ³Overall, the state economy has seen positive effects from globalization.²

Highlights from the report include the following:

  • Utah¹s 2015 international goods exports (non-gold) supported $3.5 billion in earnings and 84,367 jobs and added $6.7 billion to Utah¹s gross domestic product.
  • Utah has been largely shielded from the economic shocks of free trade due to the state¹s low concentration of import-vulnerable manufacturing jobs.
  • Immigration is a vital source of labor supply for Utah employers. The state has nearly 172,200 foreign-born workers making up 12.5 percent of the Utah¹s workforce.
  • Approximately 7 percent of the 116,600 students enrolled in the Utah System of Higher Education are international students.


³This report reaffirms the need for global engagement to generate sustained economic growth, and reveals many assets to build on,² said Marek Gootman, fellow and director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives at the Brookings Institution. ³The report reinforces the value of new efforts by business, government, and civic leaders to strengthen the international economic connections and competitiveness of Utah and its regions.²


The report is the inaugural edition of the Gardner Business Review, which shares applied economic analysis by the David Eccles School of Business. The report was shared with attendees of ³Metro Solutions: A Framework for regional growth, prosperity, and inclusion², an event convened by Salt Lake County, with participation by the Brookings Institution.