Poll: Utahns Say a Well-Educated Workforce is Vital to the State’s Economic Success

budget4You probably couldn’t find a civic, business or political leader in Utah who doesn’t want a strong economy driving job growth.

And you can’t get that without a well-educated workforce, nearly every Utah leader says.

Utahns are right in line with that thinking, a new UtahPolicy poll shows.

Dan Jones & Associates finds overwhelming evidence that Utahns believe a well-educated workforce is “very important” in Utah’s success as a state.

How much?

Eighty-nine percent say that.

And you won’t find that kind of agreement on just about any subject – except maybe that your mother is a good person.

 

Jones asked in a recent survey how a well-educated workforce plays in Utah being a successful state.

— 89 percent said “very important.”

— 10 percent said “somewhat important.”

— And zero percent – not one person – said “not important at all.”

— 1 percent didn’t know.

This week UtahPolicy is running the results of several questions poised to adult Utahns concerning education in Utah.

And the results clearly follow a pattern: Utahns believe our K-12 public education is pretty good.

But our schools need more funding.

Utah ranks last in the nation in the per-student spending – and has for some time.

Still, we get pretty good results for that low-cost education, state education officials say.

At the same time, Utah ranks fairly high in the percent of commitment to school funding.

And in recent years – after the Great Recession – the Utah Legislature and governor have been pouring new money into our schools – as the economy grows and tax receipts increase because of it.

One of the largest advocates for a well-educated workforce is the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. You can see their jobs, immigration and education plan for 2015 here.

The new Jones survey shows that 90 percent of Republicans; 90 percent of Democrats, and 88 percent of political independents say a well-educated workforce is “very important” to Utah’s success as a state.

GOP Gov. Gary Herbert says he’s on course to get 66 percent of Utahns with some post-high school degree or certification by 2020.

And that goal is closely related to growing the education level of Utah’s workforce, he says.

Over the next few days, UtahPolicy will be publishing Jones surveys on whether Utahns see our students’ reading, math and science scores are keeping up with expectations, and whether Utahns support some specific tax hikes for public education.

While the results are interesting – some may say encouraging for pro-education advocates – GOP legislative leaders have already told UtahPolicy not to expect any tax hikes for education in the 2016 Legislature, now two months away.

It’s an election year for Herbert, all 75 House members and half of the 29-member Senate.

And historically one does not see a general tax hike in an election year.

Jones polled 604 adults from Sept. 8-17; margin of effort plus or minus 4.0 percent.