Each week I have the opportunity to speak with business leaders from across the country. As I hear about their challenges with over-regulation that kills jobs, high taxes, and the lack of understanding of basic economics by some elected officials, I come out of these interactions grateful to live in Utah.
A few figures to take stock. Utah ranks among the best in the country for unemployment at 2.6%, half the national average. In job growth, Utah also leads with 3.8% this year and 3.5% in the past two years, one of only three states showing positive employment growth.
Upward mobility is better in Utah than anywhere else, and according to the new 2021 Annual Intergenerational Poverty Report, Utah consistently ranks below the U.S. average and is moving in the right direction. These are more than numbers. They are directly linked to people and opportunities.
The Milken Institute recently highlighted five Utah communities in its âTop Performing Cities 2021â report. Provo-Orem tops the list of major cities, with Salt Lake City in fourth and Ogden-Clearfield ninth. St. George and Logan placed in the top five for small towns. These rankings took into account job creation, wage gains and the growth of high tech.
This success is not the result of chance. The law of the harvest tells us that you cannot reap a crop that you do not sow. As the Utahns enjoy the fruits of their labor in a strong economy, we would do well to thank our lawmakers for creating fertile soil for Utah entrepreneurs and business owners to sow their economic seeds.
The harvest that thousands of Utah businesses have reaped can be measured in billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, but the positive impact on individuals and families can never be quantified.
One of the most important ways for lawmakers to create fertile soil is a low cost of doing business that results from low taxes and, equally important, stable, with a tax rate that has not increased. for decades. Lawmakers are able to keep taxes low because they are fiscally prudent, battling the ever-present pressure to grow government and borrow from future generations to pay for current spending.
The cost of doing business in Utah is also low as lawmakers avoid regulations and cumbersome mandates. Instead of passing laws that kill jobs, lawmakers are creating programs to help develop jobs, such as workforce skills training and a “regulatory sandbox” that creates a process by which workers companies can contribute more effectively to overly heavy regulation.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Utah lawmakers are focused on laws that improve opportunity and spur job growth, because as part-time lawmakers who have full-time jobs, they have to live. with the laws they pass. Having a sensitive and unaffected legislature to these laws cannot be overstated.
Lawmakers deserve special thanks for their work on the impacts of COVID-19. The Wall Street Journal recognized the Salt Lake metropolitan area for achieving the greatest job expansion during the pandemic. While some states have positioned the imperatives of public health and the economy as mutually exclusive, our legislative leaders have rejected this notion and instead sought a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.
Perfection in this balance – as in anything else – is impossible, but proof of success is found in the data that during the pandemic, Utah had one of the lowest death rates and death rates. Highest job growth of any state in the country.
To maintain Utah’s economic opportunities and upward mobility, we need to understand what works and why.
Is there room for improvement? The business concept of continuous improvement tells us that there always will be. In fact, it’s the strength of Utah’s fundamentals that allows us to focus on incremental improvement. The business concept of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is also instructive as we work to build on our proven strengths.
The message we can share with businesses and individuals who view Utah as a new home is that of a top notch business environment and unmatched quality of life. Let’s stay focused on the fundamentals, build on our strengths, build on whatever goes well, and pay tribute to our lawmakers who have helped create this dynamic environment where opportunities abound.
Derek Miller is the President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.