Mark Knold, Supervising Economist
The Utah economy consistently performs well. At times, recessions do arise; but, once they are done, Utah’s upward economic trajectory resumes. The nation’s last recession was 10 years ago. It was rather dramatic given its “Great Recession” label. But that was 10 years ago; Utah has fared well since.
Every state experienced employment loss in the 2008–2010 period. That means every state had an employment count higher in 2007 than in 2009. Those 2007 levels are each state’s pre-recession employment high point (with a few exceptions). To eventually return to that level thereafter means a state has matched its employment count achieved before the recession began. But that level is just economic recovery. What about going over-and-above? To go above is to add prosperity.
The following graphic shows where each state’s current employment count is in relation to each state’s pre-recession employment peak; in other words, each state’s prosperity. Utah tops the national list with an 18.5 percent gain. Utah’s employment peak came in 2008; and, thereafter, job loss occurred. By 2011, Utah had stabilized; and by 2013, it had recovered its job count. Since then, the Utah employment base has increased by 18.5 percent.
Yet the Utah economy itself can be a tale of two economies. Utah has both a metropolitan and a rural component. Economically, rural is not defined by what the eye can see but instead by economic isolation — meaning no discernible interaction with a metropolitan hub. Some Utah areas that appear rural are actually classified within a metropolitan economy. For example, there is much economic interaction between the geographically rural Morgan County and the nearby Ogden metropolitan area. Although Morgan County does not have a lot of industry but does have much farmland, many of its residents commute and work in the nearby metropolitan corridor. Therefore, Morgan becomes classified within the metropolitan sphere. Other Utah counties with a similar classification are Box Elder, Tooele and Juab.