Conditions for Utah's small businesses improved significantly in November, according to a monthly gauge released Tuesday by Zions Bank.
The Zions Bank Small Business Index for Utah was up to 79.3 from a revised 75.7 in October, driven in part by earlier-than-expected global growth. Economists agree that recovery in Utah hinges on global and national economic growth, and both are occurring.
The index is a snapshot of the state's economic business conditions from the viewpoint of small-business owners and managers. It uses a 100-point scale, with conditions in 1997 as its baseline.
For most of 2009, the index has hovered around 70 — well below the 86.8 level of 2008, which was up to that point the worst full calendar year since the assessment began. The index, which has been around since 1990, reached its high point of 126.1 in 1994.
"The return of global economic growth, following the first global recession since just after World War II, will pay dividends for Utah's small-business sector," said Jeff Thredgold, economic consultant to Zions Bank, in a prepared statement.
He noted that Utah's unemployment was estimated at 6.5 percent in the last month, up from 6.2 percent the previous month. Utah has lost 40,900 jobs in the past year. National unemployment declined 0.2 percent in November.
The report noted that four major global players — the United States, Japan, China and India — are in economic recovery. China was the least hard-hit by the recession of the major economies.
Furthermore, "the most painful European recession since World War II is over," Thredgold said, shown by a 1.5 percent annual economic growth rate during the third quarter of 2009. The recovery's "fragile and limited nature will keep consumer spending at modest levels," he said.