Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Dream of Gini: Income Equality and Utah

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist 

• Gini coefficients published by the United States Census Bureau indicate Utah has the third most equally distributed incomes in the U.S.

• The Ogden-Clearfield, UT (Weber, Morgan, Box Elder and Davis counties) metropolitan statistical area (MSA) shows the most equally-distributed incomes of any U.S. metro area.

• The Provo-Orem, UT (Utah and Juab counties) MSA also ranked in the top 10 with the most equally distributed incomes.

• Recent studies suggest income equality in developed countries is correlated with strong, consistent growth in gross domestic product.

• In the short-term, job growth shows no significant correlation with income distribution on a state or county basis.

• In most states and counties, income distribution appears to have become more unequal in recent years.

• Counties with significant mining employment tend to show more income-distribution equality.

Who gets the money? Measures of income equality attempt to quantify how income is dispersed throughout the population. In the U.S., those measures indicate that income inequality has been rising for several decades. In other words, a smaller and smaller percentage of the population is getting a larger and larger share of total income. Value judgments aside, how does income inequality affect the economy?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Measuring Utah’s Industrial Diversity

Cory Stahle, Economist

In the arena of financial investing, the advice to diversify one’s portfolio is strongly recommended. Mutual funds and investment groups attempt to lessen their risks by spreading out their investments. In the labor market, just like the stock market, industrial diversity is an important foundation for an economy to prosper and grow in the long term. A common tool used to measure labor market diversity is the Hachman Index.

The Hachman Index is calculated by taking the share of industry employment at a state level and comparing it against the same national profile. Industries are given proper weights to reflect their differing sizes, but a state profile that looks very much like the national profile would be classified as a diverse industrial distribution. The Hachman Index measures this diversity upon a scale between zero and one, with numbers nearer one being a more diverse economy.

In a previous blog, we looked at how Utah compared to other states in terms of industrial diversity (as measured by employment). Using 2012 annual data, Utah ranked fourth in industrial diversity. We have recalculated it with 2014 data, and Utah’s Hachman Index is now third in the nation, behind North Carolina and Missouri.

Having a diversified Utah economy helps lessen the impact of recessionary shocks by offsetting struggling industries with strong performers. In other words, diversification allows economies to reduce their exposure to the cyclical ups and downs inherent in a market-based economic system. If a particular industry or two falls upon hard times, the strength of the remaining industries helps to buoy the overall economic condition.