The nation's economy seems to be disintegrating under the onslaught of high inflation, high interest rates and high anxiety over the possibility of war in the Middle East, but Utah's business outlook looks calm, cool and collected through the remainder of 1990.
That's the assessment of First Security Corp. economist Dr. Kelly K. Matthews in the bank holding company's quarterly Insights economic letter published this week.Matthews said early August data - the latest available - indicates no measurable slowing in the state's economy. He noted that national magazine U.S. News & World Report included Utah among "America's Little Dragons - states that are prospering amid the nation's malaise."
Matthews said personal income growth in Utah during the first quarter of the year was 8.4 percent, making it the seventh fastest growing state in the nation. He said final data indicate Utah had a 7.9 percent rise in total wages and salaries in the last quarter of 1989 along with a 4.4 percent employment gain. He said that implies average hourly wage increases of 3.5 percent.
The state's Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 1.3 percent in July - offsetting the dip recorded in June - which Matthews said is evidence of the buoyancy of the local economy. The July index was also 4.2 percent above last year, further indication that the state's economic growth through July showed no sign of slowing.
In addition, job growth in Utah for the rest of the year remains "surprisingly strong," said Matthews. In the May-August period, non-agricultural employment gains were consistent at 33,000, which was 4.8 percent above last year and the third fastest growth rate of the 50 states.
Matthews said the local real estate sector retained its gains in the third quarter with total construction value up 22 percent.
Consumer spending remained firm locally through July, but the drop in consumer confidence nationally stemming from the crisis in the Persian Gulf could curtail local spending gains in coming month.