“We expect about 3.1 percent growth most likely, but that could come in a little stronger if non-residential construction posts stronger numbers than it did in 2013,” Mayne said. “(Last year) saw a lot of job growth in the professional, scientific and technical services, driven by expansion of the tech companies in southern Salt Lake County and northern Utah County. We could experience a little leveling off in that sector as those companies complete their staffing ramp-ups.”
Mayne noted that average annual wages showed somewhat weak growth in 2013, about 1.5 percent, mainly due to the soft labor market. But wage growth should come back slightly stronger in 2014 to about 2.5 percent, she said.
In contrast to the early stages of the recovery, housing will provide noticeable support to the expansion, the report said. Construction employment is projected to grow 7 percent in 2014. The continuing housing recovery accounts for most of the strong showing in construction, the report said.
Overall, despite questionable leadership at the congressional level, the state is “well positioned for economic expansion” this year, said Juliette Tennert, panelist and chief economist in the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.
“Given all the national pressure in 2013, Utah’s economy preformed quite well," Tennert said, "but our economic growth would have been stronger if not for all of the national uncertainty."
Congressional wrangling causing a federal shutdown, the debt ceiling debate and the resulting impact on consumer confidence all created an environment that impeded potential growth in the Utah economy, as well as other states, she said.
Tennert said the state economy has a potential to grow at a more robust 4 percent this year, which would mean more jobs and increased revenues for state and local coffers.
“We are very well-positioned for accelerating growth in the Utah economy in 2014,” she said. “As long as the national economy performs at a moderate pace, then Utah’s economy should perform quite well.”