This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utah County boomed with the second-fastest job growth of any large county in the nation in the first quarter of this year compared to last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, as the country saw a rare occurrence when average wages dropped nationally in that time frame, they still increased in Utah and in all of its large Wasatch Front counties.
Utah County saw the number of jobs jump by 6.7 percent between March 2015 and March 2016, the bureau reported. Only Williamson County, Tenn., south of Nashville, had stronger job growth among large counties, at 7.9 percent.
Utah County's job growth rate was more than three times the national average of 2 percent. It also was nearly double that of neighboring Salt Lake County the state's largest at 3.8 percent.
Carrie Mayne, chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said Utah County job growth is fueled by expansion of its "Silicon Slopes" high-tech companies.
"Then you get the multiplier effect in the surrounding industries," she said. "As you're adding jobs in that Silicon Slopes area, you're adding money into people's pockets. That turns into economic growth in other industries."
She adds, "So it's not just happening in the Silicon Slopes area. It's touching other industries. But Silicon Slopes is a driver for that."
Job-growth rates in other large Wasatch Front counties were 3.2 percent in Davis County and 2 percent in Weber County. All were at or above the national average.
Meanwhile, for only the seventh quarter in the past 38 years, the average weekly wage nationally decreased by 0.5 percent to $1,043 in the first quarter.
But in Utah, the average weekly wage instead rose by 0.6 percent to $849 (far below the national average weekly wage).
In Salt Lake County, the average weekly wage increased by 0.7 percent to $973; in Utah County, it went up by 0.8 percent to $794; in Davis County, it rose by 0.9 percent to $796; and in Weber County, it grew by 1.3 percent to $726.
Mayne noted that the rate of Utah's wage increases slowed compared to last year but at least it did not go negative as did most of the nation.
Mark Knold, senior economist at DWS, said Utah's economy is influenced by national trends, "but inside of those trends we generally tend to perform better than the U.S. economy."
"So the greater U.S. impact slowed us down," he said, "but the strong overall Utah economy and strong growth that we have been having for at least two years here still kept us on the upper edge of overall activity."