A University of Utah study shows that Utahns have more confidence in the state's economy now than at any time since the beginning of 1986.

The survey, done by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' Center for Public Affairs, indicates that declining unemployment and the creation of more jobs in 1988 than in the two previous years combined produced the optimistic public outlook.Last year, almost 20,000 non-agricultural jobs were created while unemployment dipped to 4.9 percent, the lowest level since 1979, the center noted.

Those statistics boosted Utah's consumer sentiment index to 82.9 in March, up from a low of 71.5 in December 1987. The rating indicates the state's economy will continue to perform well in the next few months.

Still, the state's index is lower than the national average, which has been measured since 1946 by the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan. The U.S. index for March was 94.3, the center said.