Utah's economy is hot, or at least very warm, according to two national economic comparisons.

And, according to figures released Friday, the U.S. economy is on the upswing, too.Private economists called the rise in the Commerce Department's Index of Leading Economic Indicators the clearest signal yet that better days are ahead for the U.S. economy, although there was disagreement about just how soon the recession will be over. (See story on A2.)

Concerning the Utah economy, one comparison shows the Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area listed among the nation's 30 top housing markets and the other shows Salt Lake County has one of the "50 Hottest County Economies" because of its projected job growth.

According to a study of top housing markets in the April 1 issue of U.S. News & World Report, the Salt Lake City metro area is ranked 29th. The study, compiled from information by the WEFA Group, an economics consulting firm, ranks where housing is appreciating the fastest.

The study showed that the median price of a home in the metro area is expected to grow 4.7 percent from 1990 to 1991. The median price is expected to rise from $70,355 to $73,623.

Top on the list is Philadelphia, where the median house price is projected to have a 9.8 percent growth. The median price of a home there is expected to grow from $111,032 to $121,013.

The coolest housing market is in Boston, where housing is expected to appreciate by only 0.3 percent from 1990 to 1991.

NPA Data Services in Washington, D.C., has also compiled a list of 50 U.S. counties that have the best chance to buck the national trend of employment slowdowns during the 1990s. Salt Lake County, ranked 35th, is expected to have a 27.1 percent increase in jobs from 1989 to 2000. According to the report published in American Demographics magazine, that equals about 117,000 new jobs.

At the top of the job growth projections is Orange County, Calif., followed by Los Angeles County and Harris County, Texas, which includes the Houston area. Fourth highest is Phoenix's home - Maricopa County.


(Additional information)

Hot statistics

Top housing markets

City Appreciation rate

1. Philadelphia 9.8%

2. Honolulu 8.9%

3. Fort Myers, Fla. 7.0%

4. Chicago 6.6%

5. Portland 6.6%


Top job growth

County New Jobs 1989-2000

1. Orange, Calif. 674,000

2. Los Angeles 652,000

3. Harris, Texas 452,000

4. Maricopa, Ariz. 434,000

5. San Diego 420,000

35. SALT LAKE 117,000