Chalk up another statistic in the history book of Utah's economic expansion - the state led the nation between 1990 and 1995 in annual payroll growth - with a huge 92 percent gain in construction payrolls and 83 percent gain in the finance, insurance and real estate sector.

According to newly released research by the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah's 1995 $17 trillion in annual payroll increased from $11 trillion in 1990. Overall, the number of employees in Utah increased by 30 percent during the first five years of the decade and the total number of businesses increased by 25 percent.Utah, South Dakota and Idaho lead the growth in payrolls in the nation. Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico were in the top 10. The numbers are culled from basic business data gathered by the Internal Revenue Ser-vice. The 1996 numbers won't be available until later this year.

The construction industry led Utah's employment growth with the number of construction employees increasing by 79 percent and number of construction firms increasing 75 percent.

Richard Greene, executive director of the Associated Builders and Contractors, said much of construction employment growth in the early '90s was fueled by home construction.

As home construction has slowed, more recently construction jobs have shifted to commercial development, such as neigh-bor-hood shopping centers, office complexes and warehouses. And, of course, I-15 construction has also helped grow the number of construction workers in the state.

Projections show at least 15 more years of strong building, according to Greene.

In the payroll area, all of Utah's economic sector showed strong growth between 1990 and 1995. Every sector

except manufacturing showed payroll growth above 50 percent. Along with construction and the finance sector, gains were posted in the services sector, wholesale trade and retail trade.

Even manufacturing's 35 percent increase in payroll was still part of a good-news picture for Utah manufacturers. While manufacturing employment declined in most states during those years, the Dakotas, Utah and Nevada saw sharp upturns.

Larry D. Bunkall, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association, said those states have low-intensity manufacturing in common. Utah manufacturers have seen steady 4 to 5 percent growth over the past 10 to 12 years.

"I think a positive business climate in the state of Utah, a good work ethic have helped manufacturing. We have a fairly good tax structure including some incentives. We have a tax incentive for purchasing manufacturing equip-ment and purchasing pollution control equipment. We also have good workers' compensation rates," Bunkall said.

Utah's service sector had the largest number of employees and largest payrolls during the five years studied. That was followed by retail trade, which had the second largest number of employees, but had a smaller payroll than the manufacturing sector.



Annual payroll

State Growth in thousands % change

1. Utah $17,039,917 54%

2. S. Dakota 5,133,980 51

3. Idaho 8,439,515 51

4. Nevada 16,526,894 47

5. Colorado 40,433,186 47

6. Arizona 36,517,113 46

7. New Mexico 11,049,803 45

8. Oregon 29,797,608 44

9. Mississippi 17,381,613 41

10. Georgia 73,622,226 40

Source: U.S. Census Bureau