New report: Social mobility in Utah

Utah ranks near top on homeownership, other measures of social mobility but Beehive State tracks national decline in children outperforming parents

Today, the Utah Foundation releases the seventh report in its Utah Social Capital Series with The Ladder of Success: Social Mobility in Utah. This installment focuses on the extent to which Utahns move up the socioeconomic ladder; the previous installments focused on civic engagement, social trust, community life, family life, social cohesion and the next generation.

The Ladder of Success presents data and analysis in four areas: post-secondary attainment; homeownership levels; the extent to which people are earning more than their parents did; and the proportion of unengaged youth. It looks at Utah’s performance on these measures over time, comparing the Beehive State both to the seven other Mountain States and to the nation at large.

Among the findings of the new report:

  • Utah is in the top third of states when it comes to educational attainment. Among the Mountain States, only the highly-educated Colorado outperforms Utah in the percentage of population with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Utah outperforms all of the other seven Mountain States on homeownership – and indeed ranks sixth nationally on this metric.
  • As to intergenerational economic mobility, Utah ranks in the top third of the U.S. Among the Mountain States, only Montana outperforms Utah.
  • Along with the rest of the nation, Utah has seen a significant long-term decline in intergenerational mobility.
  • When it comes to youth engagement in education, training or the work force, Utah performs among the top 10 nationally (with Colorado) and has generally been headed in the right direction.
  • Utah and Montana are the most consistent Mountain State performers across all four metrics, implying that they may be the most socially mobile states in the region. By contrast, Nevada performed worst on all four metrics.

Utah Foundation President Peter Reichard said the new report “essentially explores whether the American Dream is still alive in Utah.”

“We’re making headway when we look at homeownership, educational attainment and the engagement of young Utahns,” Reichard said. “But we need to look for ways to preserve these gains in the face of challenges like high home costs. We also need to find out whether it’s possible to buck the broader negative trend in intergenerational mobility.”

The Ladder of Success: Social Mobility in Utah is available on the Utah Foundation website at Special thanks to the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and the Lawrence T. & Janet T. Dee Foundation for providing project-based support to the Utah Social Capital Series.