2015 Economic Outlook

December 2, 2014

In late October, the Salt Lake Chamber and CBRE released a report that highlights the strengths of Utah’s economy. The state has a lot to be proud of: strong growth in the labor market, a revitalized commercial real estate sector, growing interest from outside investors and a young, healthy population. But that doesn’t mean Utah is immune from economic threats. The state increasingly operates in a global environment, and so trends and events that seem distant—like continued economic uncertainty in Europe—could shake things up in the Beehive State.

The Chamber’s report describes where Utah fits in that global environment, what business leaders can expect for the upcoming year, and the areas the state needs to bolster in order to protect against future economic shocks.

 “The Federal Reserve Bank [recently] met and made some important changes. They effectively ended quantitative easing in our country and made clear that inflation expectations are in check and they’re going to continue to hold on rates. It was a very important announcement because it signaled that the U.S. economy is has moved from sort of a slow-growth stage to a moderate-growth stage and our economy is doing quite well. …

You have the U.S. economy doing very well, moving from slow to moderate growth; you have the Utah economy doing extremely well, and then you have all these global economic markets that are either slowing or, in the case of Europe, tipping into another recession. So it presents an economic environment that’s complex, that’s uncertain; the recovery is incomplete.” – Natalie Gochnour, chief economist, Salt Lake Chamber; associate dean, David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah

356,000 - the number of jobs in Utah that are supported by international trade

The share of jobs tied to trade more than doubled in Utah over the last two decades.

$16 billion - the amount of goods and services exported from Utah in 2013

“Today’s economy is global, and what happens outside of the country matters. Salt Lake and Utah are becoming increasingly global players. … The world is complex, and we’re facing some very complex issues on several levels.” – Darin Mellott, senior research analyst, CBRE

2014 Global Economic Performance

Utah: ~3%

South Africa: 1.4%

United States: 2.0%

Russia: 0.2%

Brazil: 0.3%

India: 5.6%

Europe: 0.8%

China: 7.4%

International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook, October 2014

“When you hear about the labor market in Utah, we hear the figure quoted: 3.5 percent unemployment. This is a great number; it’s well below the national average, and it’s something we should be proud of, [but] there’s more nuance behind that. … If it’s 3.5 percent, why are there issues? Why are graduates still talking about how it’s hard to find a job—and employers, why are employers having trouble finding people for jobs? When you look a little deeper, there are some things to, not be worried about, but things to be considered. And things that say we still have room to grow. One of those things is labor participation dropped significantly during the recession, even more steeply than it did nationwide. It’s on the way back up, but if we are talking about labor market, that needs to be part of the conversation.” – Joseph Farrell, research analyst, CBRE

Utah currently boasts the second-lowest unemployment  rate in the country.

In 2006, 72.3% of Utah’s adult, civilian population was part of the labor force.

In 2013, that dropped to 69%. The difference amounted to nearly 70,000 people.

Utah’s job-growth rate is about double the national rate.

“There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic about Utah’s labor market. It is improving; we’re experiencing great growth—it’s about 3 percent post-recession employment growth each year. We see that continuing into the future and we see the labor marketing continuing to improve. There is room to grow.” – Farrell

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