Utahns Say Their Quality of Life Hasn’t Improved Much in Recent Years

New Utah Foundation LogoUtah’s economy has improved steadily over the past five years, with job growth now at an annual rate near 4% and unemployment down to 3.8%. But a new report by the non-partisan Utah Foundation shows Utahns are still concerned about the overall quality of those jobs, as well as environmental issues, the quality of schools, and the availability of affordable housing.

In the report Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index: From Concern About Jobs to an Embrace of Natural Surroundings in 2015, the index stands at 76.9 on a scale of 100, slightly down from the index reported in 2013 at 78.2 and in 2011 at 77.2. Utah Foundation creates the biennial ranking with support from Intermountain Healthcare. The study is based on a survey of more than 600 Utahns conducted by Lighthouse Research that asked respondents to rank both the relative importance of lifestyle factors and their quality – how well they thought these issues were being addressed.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Six quality of life aspects are seen as action items since they have above average importance but below average quality:
    • Availability of good jobs,
    • Air & water Quality,
    • Quality public schools,
    • Affordable, good housing,
    • Acceptance & respectfulness of individual & group differences, and
    • Cost of living & affordability.
  • Three aspects showed a significant decrease in quality from the previous year
    • Safety and security from crime,
    • Having a family nearby, and
    • Traffic conditions.
  • Even in taking into consideration their decreases, both safety and security from crime and having a family nearby remained with higher than average quality results.
  • No aspect showed significant increases in quality from 2013 to 2015.
  • Non-Wasatch Front respondents indicated that they had higher quality of life than their urban peers. And people with more education indicated that they had higher quality of life than their less educated peers.

“I find that those differences between quality aspects based on survey respondents’ demographics are quite interesting and revealing,” said Shawn Teigen, Utah Foundation Research Director and the author of the report “Women responded that safety is more important, but it has a lower quality. Older respondents also felt that safety was not as high quality as younger respondents, but that the environment was better.”

Teigen adds “the biggest differences were between people with bachelor’s degrees and higher as compared to people with only high school degrees. The more education – the higher quality of life. There was also a difference between people living on and off of the Wasatch Front, but it was more mixed. People in more rural areas of the state felt that aspects like safety, traffic, and schools were better, but they felt that jobs, public transportation, and the availability of good stores were worse.”

The research report Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index 2015 is available on the Foundation’s website, www.utahfoundation.org. The reports from 2011 and 2013 are also available for comparison.