SALT LAKE CITY — Utah consumers are more bullish about the state's economic fortunes than ever before.
The Zions Bank Utah Consumer Attitude Index climbed 8.9 points in October to register at 125.4 — the highest level ever recorded in the Beehive State.
Consumer confidence in Utah has registered above 110 since June last year, indicating that Utahns continue to be optimistic about current economic conditions, as well as upbeat about the economy’s future trajectory, said Aaron Andersen, partner with the Cicero Group.
The overall index currently sits 13.6 points higher than its level 12 months ago, he noted.
"Almost a decade out from the terrible impacts of the (Great) Recession, you see people acknowledge that things have gotten better in the last six months," he said following a news conference in Salt Lake City. "At the core of the jump this month, it's folks looking out into the future and believing things are going to be even better six months from now."
He also mentioned the national Consumer Confidence Index rose 5.3 points to register at 125.9 this month — 25.1 points above its level the same time last year. Barring any unforeseen issues, the upward consumer confidence trends in Utah and nationally are likely to continue for the near-term future, he said.
"Given where we've been and where we are today, the trends have been good," Andersen said. "And we expect — especially here in (Utah) given the booming economy we're experiencing — there is nothing that we're seeing on the horizon for us to (believe otherwise). There is plenty of reason to continue to be optimistic."
He attributed October’s record-setting jump to positive attitudes toward Utah’s current labor market, along with positive forecasts for general business conditions and household income increases. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Utah’s 2.6 percent year-over-year employment growth rate was behind only Nevada and Georgia, making the Beehive State’s job market the third fastest growing in the nation.
Andersen said job growth was fueled mostly by employment increases in the construction industry — up 6.2 percent, the business services industry was up 4.7 percent, along with the trade, transportation and utility sector which is up 2.6 percent.
Growth in the labor market, stimulated by recent increases in consumer demand for goods and services statewide, has prompted prices to climb significantly in Utah, he said. Since September 2016, the statewide cost of living rose 3.5 percent overall, he added.1 comment on this story
Almost half of the cost-of-living increase this last year was caused by housing price increases alone, Andersen said. As for the near future, the state's economy is poised for continued growth, based on the significant amount of development set to take place over the next few years.
"There is a tremendous capital outlay toward large-scale infrastructure projects," he explained. "That means construction of the ($2.9 billion) airport project, the new state prison and all the commercial real estate projects that are happening around the I-15 corridor throughout the Wasatch Front that are going to continue to be strong (economic) drivers, as well as tech.
"When you see growth in one area, it tends to ripple out across other industries as well."