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 only had 51 workers for every 100 open jobs. However, Utah workers were being hired into more jobs than leaving them. 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%.
Utah’s current labor market has not yet fully recovered, but it is displaying signs of improvement. The state’s worker shortage lags far behind both its pre-pandemic levels and the nation’s current average. On the other hand, Utah’s labor force participation rate is a full percentage point higher than it was in February 2020.
Utah’s hiring rate continues to surpass its quit rate, and its unemployment rate remains lower than it was before the Pandemic. These trends are particularly promising for employers, who have a surplus of 34,000 job openings compared to February 2020. Unfortunately, the state has even fewer available workers today than it did in early 2020. However, Utah still faces a worker shortage with 61 available workers for every 100 jobs in the Beehive state.
Utah’s Business Environment
Utah's business environment is diverse, encompassing a rich tourism industry and a bountiful ecosystem for mining and farming.
Most Utahns are employed by the trade, transportation, and utilities industries, as well as government, with financial activities employment being relatively minimal. 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
Twenty-two percent of Utah’s population has obtained their high school diploma or its equivalent, lagging behind the U.S. average of 26.1% in 2022. 24.7% 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 (41%) Utah workers are remote workers. 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. Consequently, they are more actively engaged in the labor force, playing a dual role as both consumers and taxpayers, contributing to help fund 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.