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Study: Utah ranked ninth best tax climate for businesses

Utah has the ninth best tax climate for businesses, said a new study by the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization.

Its State Business Tax Climate Index penalized what the group saw as overly complex, burdensome and economically harmful tax codes, and rewarded transparent and neutral tax codes that do not distort business decisions.

While Utah was ninth overall, the Foundation ranked its corporate tax structure third; property tax structure fifth; individual income tax structure 12th; sales tax structure 17th; and unemployment insurance tax structure 22nd.

The highest scores went to Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska, the lowest to New Jersey, New York and California.

The report's goal "is to start a conversation between taxpayers and policy makers about how their states fare against the rest of the country," Tax Foundation policy analyst Jared Walczak said.

Utah's honored with national award for efforts to address intergenerational poverty

The state Department of Workforce Services received a national award Tuesday for its efforts to address intergenerational poverty.

At its 80th annual conference in Oklahoma City, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies honored Utah with a SEAL (State Excellence Award for Leadership) award for trying to make societal changes.

"Our goal is to reduce the number of Utah families caught up in a generational cycle of poverty," said Workforce Services Executive Director Jon Pierpont, noting dozens of state and local employees aided "this long-term initiative to see that every Utah family can access the tools and resources they need to improve their quality of life and become economically stable."

Workforce Services program manager Melisa Stark also won an award for helping align educational programs with the needs of industry for skilled, qualified workers.

Stark's work with the Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnerships and Career Pathways programs resulted in 25 companies and educational institutions receiving $3.5 million to build training programs.

Utahns have greater confidence in present, future economy

As far as Utahns are concerned, the economy is good and getting better.

The Zions Banks Utah Consumer Attitude Index rose 1.8 points this month to 113.2, which is 3.2 points higher than in September of 2015. Utah's current number, based on greater confidence in present and future economic conditions, is well above the national Consumer Confidence Index. It rose 2.3 points fin the last month to 104.1.

"Utahns have plenty of reasons to be optimistic," said Zions Bank President and CEO Scott Anderson. "Overall economic growth is rebounding from a sluggish start to the year as strong numbers for employment and housing continue to indicate a bright future for Utah's economy."

Confidence in current conditions rose 1.5 points over the past month, settling in 8.0 points higher than a year ago. Expectations for six months from now rose 1.9 points since August, in part because fewer people (only 7 percent, down from 11 percent) fear conditions will deteriorate.

Anderson noted that 22 percent of Utahns believe the economy is likely to improve in the next year, up 2 percent since August.