2020 Economic Report to the Governor shows uncertainty and moderation, but still healthy growth

Report presented by Gardner Institute to Gov. Gary Herbert at annual Economic Outlook & Policy Summit event


Newswise — January 17, 2020 (Salt Lake City, Utah) - The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute today presented the 32nd Economic Report to the Governor to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert at the 2020 Economic Outlook & Public Policy Summit, hosted by the Salt Lake Chamber. The report has been the preeminent source for data and commentary on Utah’s economy for over 30 years. The consensus forecast predicts increased uncertainty and moderation, but still healthy growth for the state in the coming year.

“The Utah economy continues to prosper, with favorable demographics, a supportive business climate, and economic diversity all continuing to advantage our state,” said Juliette Tennert, director of economic and public policy research at the Gardner Institute. “Internal risks in 2020 and beyond include a tight labor market, increasing costs, housing affordability, declining fertility rates, and air quality. Externally, a late U.S. business cycle, trade tensions, and geopolitical instability add risk to the forecast.” 

Other highlights from the report include:

Expansion – Every major industrial sector expanded over the last year, adding 45,600 new jobs to the economy. The annual employment growth rate of 3% in 2019 was at the state’s long-term average and among the strongest in the nation.

Construction – Fueled by record-level residential and near-record commercial activity, Utah’s construction sector added 4,500 jobs and posted the state’s fastest pace of job growth in 2019 at 4.3%. The value of all permit-authorized residential construction increased by 10.9 percent to $5.7 billion, while permit-authorized nonresidential construction grew 6.2% to $2.3 billion.

Tourism – The state’s leisure and hospitality sector grew by 4.1 percent over the past year. Above-average snowfall and an extended 2018-2019 ski season led to a record $1.4 billion in skier spending. Increased efforts led to a record number of visitors to Utah state parks in 2019.

Demographics – Utah’s population grew by 53,600 to reach 3.2 million people in 2019. About 47% of this growth came from net in-migration as people moved to the state to take advantage of economic opportunity. Natural increase continued to generate the majority of growth, 53%, despite births dropping to the lowest level since 2000. 

The Economic Report to the Governor is prepared by the Utah Economic Council and is a collaborative endeavor of the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business and Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. 

In addition to the report, the Gardner Institute today released a companion piece titled Utah Informed: Visual Intellection for 2020. Utah Informed is a collection of tables, charts, ideas, and schematics designed to inform Utahns on the latest compelling trends and to spur innovative ideas. The Gardner Institute publishes Utah Informed annually in partnership with the Salt Lake Chamber.

“Decision makers are advantaged when they understand the past 20 years as they plan for the next 20 years,“ said Natalie Gochnour, associate dean of the Eccles School and director of the Gardner Institute. “It is in the spirit of seeing more clearly, starting a new decade, and preparing for the future that we share this fifth edition of Utah Informed. In it, we provide relevant and interesting information to help Utahns make informed decisions in the coming year.”

Both the Economic Report to the Governor and Utah Informed are now available online. 

ABOUT THE KEM C. GARDNER POLICY INSTITUTE

The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute serves Utah by preparing economic, demographic and public policy research that helps the state prosper. We are Utah’s demographic experts, leaders on the Utah economy, and specialists on public policy and survey research. We are an honest broker of INFORMED RESEARCH, which guides INFORMED DISCUSSIONS, and leads to INFORMED DECISIONS™. For more information, please visit gardner.utah.edu or call 801-587-3717.

ABOUT THE DAVID ECCLES SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

The Eccles School is synonymous with ‘doing.’ The Eccles experience provides a world-class business education with a unique, entrepreneurial focus on real-world scenarios where students put what they learn into practice long before graduation. Founded in 1917 and educating more than 6,000 students annually, the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business offers nine undergraduate majors, four MBAs, eight other graduate programs, a Ph.D. in seven areas and executive education curricula. The School is also home to 12 institutes, centers, and initiatives, which deliver academic research and support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Eccles.Utah.edu or call 801-581-7676.


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