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Utah's economy is perking up.
The state has produced decent business growth the past several years and, recently, declining unemployment. That success, in the face of continuing economic turbulence elsewhere, persuaded Forbes magazine to choose Utah as the best state in the U.S. for doing business for the second year in a row.
"Utah repeats this year as Forbes Best State for business and careers in our sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states," Kurt Badenhausen wrote in "The Best States for Business," which appears in the magazine's latest edition. "No state can match the consistent performance of Utah."
In compiling its ranking, Forbes measured each state's business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, got the most weight in the selection process.
"This (ranking) just reinforces that the plan we have in place to encourage economic growth and job creation is working," Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday. "And it is not only a reflection of what we have done in the past, but a signal about what is to come."
Among the factors that helped Utah again gain the top ranking were its job production and low energy costs.
"Our energy costs are 31 percent below the national average," Herbert said. "And our job growth has increased over the past five years, compared to the country's negative trend."
Badenhausen said businesses are getting the message.
Procter & Gamble, ITT, Home Depot and Boeing announced expansions in the state this year, he wrote
"The Goldman Sachs office in Salt Lake City is its second biggest in the Americas with more than 1,000 employees and significant expansion expected over the next four years" Badenhausen said, adding that "Utah's story is far from over. Job growth is projected to be 2.4 percent annually through 2015."
Moody's Analytics economist Marycruz DeLeon said the state also will see increases in technology employment. Energy industry employment could boom, too, she said.
Transportation wasn't considered in Forbes' ranking, but University of Utah economist Jim Wood said that factor plays a big role in the state's business environment.
"The term 'Crossroads of the West' is true," Wood said. "We have 1-15 and I-80. We're a hub for Delta Air Lines, as well as a railroad hub. And that means that manufacturers can produce product one day, and if they need to, they can get it to the West Coast virtually overnight. Our wage rates are competitive and we offer a quality workforce."
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