Strategic Advocacy Manager, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Director, Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Graphic Designer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
September 15, 2023
The state of Utah has a favorable landscape for businesses and individuals, with a diverse economy, strong labor market recovery, and a robust small business ecosystem. Immigrants contribute meaningfully to the state's workforce and economy, while educational attainment, quality of life, and cost of living factors remain promising.
The Worker Shortage Across America
Explore the interactive map below to see the impact of the worker shortage crisis in each state.
The Chamber’s Worker Shortage Index ratio indicates the number of available workers for every job opening. A ratio above 1.0 indicates a surplus of available workers compared to job openings.
Utah’s Labor Market
Prior to the pandemic, Utah’s labor market was stable but still heavily struggled with worker shortages. The state's unemployment rate was far lower than the national figure at 3.5%, and its labor force participation rate was five points higher than the national rate of 63.4%. Yet the state only had 55 workers for every 100 open jobs.
As of August 2023, Utah’s current labor market had not yet fully recovered, but was displaying signs of improvement. Utah's labor force participation rate has increased by a full percentage point, and the state's unemployment rate remains lower than it was before the pandemic. Employers have a surplus of 34,000 job openings compared to February 2020.
However, the state’s worker shortage lags far behind both its pre-pandemic levels and the nation’s current average. The Beehive state has even fewer available workers today than it did in early 2020, with only 44 available workers for every 100 jobs.
Utah’s Business Environment
Utah's business environment is diverse, encompassing a rich tourism industry and a bountiful ecosystem for mining and farming.
Among the industries monitored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector, as well as the government sector, employ the highest number of Texans, while the financial activities sector employs the fewest. Utah’s employment landscape comes from its large mining firms, in addition to prominent companies working in consulting and telecommunications.
Utah boasts a thriving small business ecosystem, with 99.3% of all Utah businesses falling into this category. Nearly half of Utah's workforce works within small businesses. Within this dynamic landscape, women own 43.8% of small businesses, 4.9% are minority-owned, 7% are owned by Hispanics, and 5.4% are veteran-owned.
Utah’s Educational Attainment
Ninety-three percent of Utah’s population has obtained their high school diploma or its equivalent. Nearly 40% of the population has attained a bachelor's degree, while 13.2% has secured a graduate degree.
Most high school graduates stay in the state to attend college where the average in-state tuition is $8,604. Out-of-state tuition in the Beehive state is $19,402, significantly less expensive than the national average out-of-state tuition of $28,000. In total, roughly 395,000 students are enrolled in a college in Utah for the 2022-2023 school year. These students supply a rich talent pool from which local employers can recruit talent.
Quality of Life
Utah's median household income of $95,800 well exceeds the national average of around $70,000, which has earned the state rank as 3rd highest among all states. Utah has a modest tax rate of 4.85%, with a flat rate structure that positions it among the lower tiers of state tax rates.
One in four Utah workers work remote at least one day a week. For those commuting into an office, the average commute time is 22 minutes. The Council for Community and Economic Research measures states’ costs of living compared to the national average of 100. Utah’s cost of living index falls at 101.5, meaning the state equally affordable in comparison to the national cost of living. The median rent settles at $1,090, while the median home cost is $522,488, slightly higher than the national average. 70% of the population owned their housing unit in 2021. The state experienced a growth rate of 2.95% from 2020 to 2022.
In the U.S., immigrants tend to be of working age in comparison to native-born individuals. As workers, these immigrants are also contributing to support programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Looking at Utah in particular, immigrants comprise 8.5% of the state's population, totaling 272,134 individuals. Their collective spending power amounts to $5.9 billion, while their tax contributions reach $1.7 billion.
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About the authors
Makinizi Hoover is the Strategic Advocacy Manager at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her work includes the development and project management of comprehensive data centers that serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, businesses, and the public.
Stephanie Ferguson is the Director of Global Employment Policy & Special Initiatives. Her work on the labor shortage has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press.
Isabella has created stunning visualizations tackling pressing issues like the worker shortage, the benefits of hiring veterans, the lifespan of small businesses, and the future of work.