A substantial majority of Utahns living outside the Wasatch Front are dissatisfied with their opportunities for steady employment, higher income and job advancement, a survey shows.
The survey by the University of Utah's Survey Research Center found a significant percentage of non-urban residents are "very dissatisfied," an unhappiness level that could continue to spur brisk out-migration from rural Utah, said Thomas M. Kontuly, associate professor of geography.However, Kontuly found that those who move aren't necessarily better off.
From 1980 to 1990, the population in the four Wasatch Front counties of Utah, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties grew by 261,400 - 17.8 percent - to nearly 1.4 million.
During the same period the population of the other 25 counties rose by only 4.4 percent to 347,033. The area's share of the state population thus dropped from nearly 23 percent to 20 percent.
The survey on life satisfaction and migration issues was administered to 852 randomly selected adults, about half from metropolitan and half from non-metropolitan areas.
Some 67 percent of rural residents were either somewhat or very dissatisfied with opportunities for higher income, 57 percent were dissatisfied with opportunities for steady employment and 54 percent were dissatisfied with job advancement opportunities.
Some 50 percent were dissatisfied with opportunities for cultural activities such as the theater, concerts and museums.
Kontuly said that studies on migration describe the decision to move as the culmination of "push" and "pull" factors. If someone is fairly dissatisfied with a location and fairly attracted to another, a move is likely to occur.
But if someone is extremely unhappy, the person may move despite minimal "pulls" from other locations.
About 38 percent of the rural respondents were very dissatisfied with opportunities for higher income, compared to 22 percent of metropolitan residents. Thirty-two percent of rural residents were very dissatisfied with opportunities for steady employment, compared to 16 percent of urban dwellers.
Fifty-four percent of non-metropolitan residents - compared with 19 percent of their urban counterparts - are very dissatisfied with opportunities for job advancements.
Kontuly said a large share of Utah residents would like to live in rural areas or small towns if they could find good jobs.