Job growth, income growth and the unemployment rate are all expected to improve this year as the Beehive State continues to outperform national economic conditions. That is according to a group of leading economists who today released a consensus economic forecast predicting positive performance in 2014.
“The outlook for 2014 is positive, especially in Utah,” said Darin Mellott, a senior analyst from CBRE and member of the Utah Economic Council that produced the new outlook. “Risks remain as policymakers still must address important issues. However, the coming 12 months could be the year when more of the surprises in the economy are on the upside.”
Utah stands out among a handful of states that are leading the nation in job growth. In 2014, job growth is expected to match the state’s historical average of 3.1 percent. This contrasts with a national job growth rate forecast of 1.7 percent. Unemployment in Utah is forecasted to remain below 4.5 percent, as the nation continues to struggle with high unemployment.
These and other forecasts are included in the 2014 Economic Outlook released today at the annual Utah Economic Review hosted by the Salt Lake Chamber. Gov. Gary R. Herbert and over 400 business leaders attended the forum and heard from a panel of leading economists who discussed the forecast.
“Our job growth numbers have been impressive, particularly over the past year,” said Gov. Herbert. “We are ahead of pace to meet our goal to create 100,000 in 1,000 days and we’re growing more diverse economically. There is plenty of reason for optimism when it comes to Utah’s economic future.”
Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, noted in his remarks the many positive economic development success stories occurring in Utah. Workday, Hexcel, Xactware, P&G, Goldman Sachs, Syberjet/Metalcraft, IM Flash Technologies, eBay and Exelis are all expanding in Utah in the coming year.
“We have the ingredients for economic success – a committed business community, smart fiscal management on Capitol Hill, low business costs and an attractive workforce,” said Beattie. “We saw improvements in 2013 and I expect the Utah economy to continue to prosper.”
While the overall forecast is positive, economists highlighted their shared concerns about policy paralysis in Washington, D.C.
“The greatest risk to the Utah economy right now is the constant bickering within the beltway about the nation’s fiscal condition,” said Natalie Gochnour, chief economist for the Salt Lake Chamber. “The gridlock creates serious uncertainty for businesses throughout the country, preventing them from investing and hiring like they want to do. As the nation’s economy struggles, it ultimately impacts Utah.”
Economists pointed to Utah’s tech and energy sectors as the industries to watch in 2014. Both sectors are showing promising growth. Utah’s housing industry is also a focus because of the critical role it plays in sustaining strong job performance. Construction permit value, dwelling unit permits and hoem prices are expected to increase in 2014.