Blog Post

Insight: Time for the northern Utah economy to come alive

By: Natalie Gochnour

Originally published in the Deseret News

The Utah economy continues to impress. Utah job growth registers an impressive 3.5 percent, the fastest job growth in the country and nearly twice the national average of 1.6 percent. Utah’s job growth, combined with low unemployment, rising wages and net in-migration, makes for the hottest economy in the nation right now.

I’m always tracking the story behind the story and, of course, there are many behind-the-scene narratives about the Utah economy.

One is the silent recession in rural Utah, as several counties have contracted since 2007.

Another is the rapid population growth in Utah’s urban “ring counties” like Wasatch, Morgan and Tooele. Wasatch County is Utah’s fastest-growing county. Morgan and Tooele are not far behind.

Another story emanates from Utah County, the state’s current economic powerhouse. Job growth in Utah County over the past year (May 2017 to May 2018) increased by 6.2 percent, more than twice the rate of Salt Lake County, which tallied 3.0 percent.

These stories remain, but an emerging story is the economic potential of northern Utah. I think it’s time for the northern Utah economy to come alive.

My optimism for the northern Utah economy stems from three assets — land, livability and leadership.

Northern Utah’s land supply offers an affordable alternative to development in Salt Lake County, which is running out of developable land. By some estimates, there are only about 30,000 acres of buildable land supply left in Salt Lake County. New development must push upwards and outwards. Utah County will get much of th