Creation of high-technology companies and the jobs they bring with them has been a "critical element" of Utah economic development during the past 10 years, but now, as it is nationwide, growth in high-tech industries is slowing.
That's the view of the University of Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research in a report titled "Is the Bloom Off Utah's High-tech Rose?"Senior research analyst Jan Cris-pin-Little says in the report that despite major Utah success stories in the high-tech field, such as Evans & Sutherland, Novell Inc., WordPer-fect Corp. and 10 or so others recognized as leaders in their various fields, Utah's future as a high-tech state is difficult to predict.
The 359 high-tech companies surveyed for the report employ some 37,000 people and reported sales of more than $4.5 billion, but Crispin-Little says the picture is changing world-wide.
"Venture funds are harder to acquire, global competition is increasing, foreign governments are putting greater amounts of capital into developing new technologies. All of this spells difficult times ahead for U.S. companies," she said.
Crispin-Little said from 1986 to 1987, employment in Utah's high-tech industry increased more than 5 percent, several times that of the state's total non-agricultural employment growth rate for that same year.
But in 1988, high-tech employment declined to 36,640 jobs from the previous year's high of 37,146, while 1989 saw the number of jobs increase by less than 1 percent to 36,802.
By the end of 1989, most segments had either stabilized or were expanding, but aerospace-equipment manufacturers collectively reduced their work forces by 1,100 people that year, she said.