This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah's pro-business philosophy is poised to become a model for the nation, the state's chief evangelist said Friday.
Releasing the state's economic review for 2015, Gov. Gary Herbert told business leaders in Salt Lake City that a mix of fiscal prudence, low tax rates and limited regulation has vaulted Utah ahead of other states in job growth and upward mobility.
"We have a unique time in Utah's history to lead in ways we've never had the opportunity to do before," the Republican governor told about 300 executives, state analysts and others associated with the Salt Lake Chamber.
"We are, in fact, like cream rising to the top. We're being discovered. We're becoming the island of tranquility in a sea of chaos, economically," Herbert said. "I've never been more optimistic about Utah's future than I am today."
The governor's remarks came as he accepted a glowing report on Utah's economic growth in 2014 and its future, compiled by government, University of Utah and private-sector economists.
The 150-page review, published yearly, notes Utah's better-than-average record on creating jobs and an economic growth rate that ranks third among U.S. states, just behind oil-booming North Dakota and Texas.
More of the same is expected this year, the report predicts, with consistent growth spread across economic sectors, particularly technology. Indicators such as population, job creation, exports, venture-capital investments and taxable sales all point in a positive direction, says the "2015 Economic Report to the Governor."
"Barring any major disruptions to the global and national economies," its summary says, "the state can look forward to continuing moderate growth and improving economic conditions in 2015."
There is a major exception to these upward trends, and it has some worried.
Wages in Utah have remained stagnant even as unemployment numbers fall and labor markets tighten, a combination one leading economist called "perplexing."
"We expect to see wages grow," said Carrie Mayne, chief economist for the state Department of Workforce Services. "That simply has not happened."
While welcoming Friday's generally positive economic news, Herbert also repeated his long-held views about the federal government "overreaching" in state affairs. The governor said he viewed the Republican majority in Congress as "a new beginning" on that front and noted the many influential committee posts now held by members of Utah's all-GOP congressional delegation.
"Utah," the governor said, "is really taking over."