Report shows local economy continues to grow

Published: Tuesday, April 29 2014 8:42 p.m. MDT

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index rose 3.7 points to 102.9 from March to April, according to a new report. The index has now increased for six consecutive months.

Julie Jacobson, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah economy continues to improve, a new report shows.

The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index rose 3.7 points to 102.9 from March to April. The index has now increased for six consecutive months. Comparatively, this month’s national Consumer Confidence Index decreased 1.6 points to 82.3.

According to Zions Bank economic adviser Randy Shumway, an index number above 100 suggests a growing economy.

“Things in Utah are fundamentally going better (economically) than anywhere else in the country,” Shumway said during a news conference Tuesday.

The report showed that 43 percent of Utahns expressed that current business conditions are good — the second time since the index’s inception in 2011 that more than 40 percent of residents have rated current business conditions favorably. Additionally, just 8 percent of Utahns rate current business conditions as bad — an all-time low.

Many Utahns expect business conditions to improve six months from now as well, Shumway said. On the employment front, many Utahns also believe the labor market has substantially improved, he said.

The report showed that 27 percent of Utahns believe jobs in their area are plentiful, up from 22 percent at the beginning of 2014. The percentage of Utahns believing that jobs are plentiful has increased 13 percentage points since April 2013, the report noted.

The Utah jobless rate has dropped from 4.5 percent to 4.1 percent over the past 12 months, and the state has added 35,800 jobs year-over-year, Shumway said.

The Zions Bank Present Situation Index — an assessment of confidence in current business and employment conditions — decreased 1 percentage point to 98.3, compared with the national Present Situation Index decreasing 4.2 points to 78.3.

The Zions Bank Expectations Index — an estimate of consumer confidence in the economy six months from now — climbed 6.8 points to 105.9, compared with the national expectations index, which rose 0.1 points to 84.9.

The consumer attitude index is based on a representative sample of 500 Utah households surveyed monthly by The Cicero Group, with a confidence level of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

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