Blog Post

Insight: The Supply of and Demand for Skills in Utah

By: John Downen

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about labor shortages. After 10 years of recovery, firms are having difficulty filling jobs. Private-sector employment in Utah has grown 3.5% annually since 2010. Unemployment rates are at historic lows: 2.5% in October. However, wage growth has been sluggish at best, averaging just 1.1 percentage points above inflation annually since 2010. A tight labor market should lead to faster wage growth as employers compete for a limited supply.

The Gardner Institute recently completed a study comparing the supply of new entrants to Utah’s labor force with the projected demand for occupations over the next several years.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services projects that nearly 70% of annual job openings between now and 2026 will be for occupations typically requiring at most a high school diploma; 20% of openings will typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Annual Labor Demand by Typical Minimum Education Level, 2016–2026