Loser: Utah lawmakers are looking forward to dealing with a slight budget surplus as they convene next month, but a new forecast from the Salt Lake Chamber predicts an economic slowdown in 2012, at least in Salt Lake County. Employment is predicted to grow by 1.2 percent, compared to 2.3 percent this year. How this will affect state revenues next year is unclear, but the forecast ought to inform lawmakers that boom times haven't exactly returned yet.
Winner: The "no-brainer award" this week goes to the D.C. Office of Human Rights, which threw out a complaint from a law professor against Catholic University of America and its recent decision to return to a policy of providing separate dorms for men and women. The George Washington law professor claimed the policy violated D.C.'s Human Rights Act and was discriminatory toward women. Not so, the office said. No kidding. Studies have shown a correlation between binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and coed dormitories. If anything, coed dormitory policies should be indicted for being abusive and debilitating.
Winner: Last year, 20.2 million people visited Utah, and travelers and tourists spent $6.53 billion in the state, up 4.7 percent over the previous year. The Utah Office of Tourism has done a good job marketing the state. Given the many natural wonders that abound here, they had a lot to work with. These figures, however, are particularly impressive given the hard economic times and the conventional wisdom that people cut back on vacations and travel when tightening their budgets.
Winner: The term "Black Friday" has a crass ring to it, seemingly glorifying the commercial aspects of the season. However, it is notable that this year's Christmas season started with a bang nationally, as well as in Utah. From Thanksgiving until Sunday, Americans spent $54.2 billion, which was 16 percent more than during the same time last year. There is nothing crass in hoping that this signals an economic rebound, provided, that is, Americans have the money to pay these bills when they come due.
Loser: Not everyone has the Christmas spirit. Someone stole presents off the front porch of a family's home in Salt Lake City moments after a UPS truck had delivered them this week. One member of the Province family watched the theft happen from a window in the house. Police say this kind of thing is not unusual this time of year, and people should take precautions when expecting deliveries. Grinches, apparently, abound.