People appear to be excited about moving to Utah. But something seems to happen, for some of them, between moving and staying.
These are the preliminary findings of a survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates recently for the Department of Community and Economic Development. The survey shows that 62 percent of the newcomers surveyed had a positive impression of Utah before they moved here.After living here for awhile, 45 percent of new Utahns said they feel even more positive about the state than they did before arriving, the survey showed. Another 26 percent were neutral and 28 percent more negative.
In telephone and face-to-face interviews, Jones & Associates contacted 251 Utah residents who have lived in the state between six months and three years. Thirty-two percent had lived in Utah before, and 56 percent had come from another Western state.
The survey, which has an error margin of plus or minus 6 percent, shows that newcomers are most positive about the scenery, weather/climate, recreational and cultural opportunities, shopping and medical facilities. They like the overall quality of life, easy access and transportation systems and higher education.
They were most negative about taxes, wage scales, job opportunities and what they viewed as the closed-mindedness of Utahns.
Forty percent said they earn less in Utah than they did in other states; 28 percent earn more.
"What newcomers are saying is what other Utahns have been saying: The economy is sluggish," said Carol Clark, director of communication and research for the Department of Community and Economic Development. "That isn't new news, but it's a major thread throughout the survey."
It's something state government may or may not be able to control.
"We would like to do something about it. The ideal is if we could do something magical to solve it, but that's not how it works," Clark said. "It is just a variable in this state."
The department won't receive a final report from Jones & Associates for two weeks. But based on preliminary data, Clark said the study shows several positive things about being in Utah.
For example, 74 percent of those surveyed said they feel they "belong" to the community professionally, while 63 percent said they belong socially.
Another 56 percent said they belong religiously. While some newcomers find cliquishness among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they said their experiences with Mormons have been more positive than negative.
It's the positive things, Clark said, on which the state needs to capitalize.
"There are also some things we can work on," said Clark, noting that the survey has a few negative notes.
For instance, 25 percent surveyed said they are more happy in Utah than in other states; 34 percent are less happy. Yet, while 26 percent would "jump at the chance" to leave for an equal job in another state, 31 percent said they would probably not move.
Of the people surveyed, 44 percent have completed some college/technical training. Seventy percent are married, 23 percent single; 41 are male; 59 percent are female. A computer system has also been developed to facilitate networking between new and current Utah residents.