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Jun 01 2014
ICEL Meeting Recap: Annual Economic Update
Erik Wright, CBF, Spectrum Engineers, Inc.

This month was our Executive Appreciation Luncheon where ICEL members and their employers all had the exclusive privilege to hear from the distinguished Director of the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, James Wood. His insight into Utah's housing, construction, and real estate markets helped us have a better understanding of Utah's overall current economic situation and helped facilitate our own estimations of where we, as a State, are headed.

Against a backdrop of gloomy national economic news where we hear of the lack of affordable housing, income inequality, and less than expected job growth figures, the mood of all the credit managers at our luncheon was everything but negative! James Wood flashed PowerPoint slides heavily laden with statistical graphs illustrating that the State of Utah is a 'High Growth State' going back as far as 1950. Nationally, Utah was ranked 2nd with an employment increase of 3.4% between 2012 and 2013, falling just behind North Dakota which recently had a boom in the gas and mining industry. However, it is forecasted that Utah will be ranked first in the nation with an estimated employment growth of a modest 2.5% between now and 2018.

What makes Utah uniquely shielded from many of the economic concerns shared in many other States? Wood shared the following list of favorable economic drivers:

  1. Labor Market:  Low cost, High quality, and large supply
  2. Transportation:  Rail, Road, and Air (SLC Airport Expansion)
  3. Demographic Growth Characteristics
  4. Quality of Life
  5. State Fiscal Condition
  6. High Growth Rate
  7. Favorable Distribution of Income - Ranked best in country even with similar metro areas

The following industries had the most significant impact to driving growth within the State between 2010 and 2013:

     HealthCare - 11.4% growth with median salaries of ~$38,000.00

     Accommodation - 10.7% growth with median salaries of ~$15,200.00

     Professional/Scientific - 9.8% growth with median salaries of ~$59,500.00

     Management - 9.5% growth

Overall median Annual Salaries ~$40,000.00

Utah is simply a good place to do business and we should continue to see major tech companies such as Adobe, Flash Technologies, and the US government (NSA Data Center in Lehi) entering the State (not to mention major financial players such as Goldman Sachs). The overwhelming consensus of the data and anecdotal scenarios that Wood shared would encourage us to be believe that Utah has a good foundation of both employment and other economic drivers to indicate a solid recovery in the real estate and construction industries. There is real good news for home builders - according to Wood the reason home builders should get excited because he is seeing an increase in Household Growth, 'Net-in' migration, and Job Growth and a reduction in 'un-sold' inventory, underwater loans, and foreclosures; all positive indicators for building to increase! 

I am sure I share a similar sentiment with all that were in attendance; that as we walked out of the meeting it was easy to stand a little taller and be a little more proud to live in such a great state!