February 8, 2022 (Salt Lake City) – In 2020, U.S. government expenditures climbed to 31.2% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the largest expenditure as a percent GDP since the end of World War II. Such a level of government participation in the nation’s economy alarms some analysts. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute today released a report that analyzes whether Utah has seen similar growth trends, or followed its own path related to government spending.
“Total state expenditures in Utah (from all sources) increased from $2.6 billion in 1989 to $13.9 billion in 2019, an increase of 400%,” said Michael Christensen, Gardner Institute scholar-in-residence and lead author of the study. “However, when state expenditures are measured per $1,000 of total personal income (TPI) during the 30-year period of 1989-2019, state government expenditures have declined from $110 to $89, a drop of 19.3%. This story of a shrinking Utah government is similar when measuring state employment or wages relative to the state’s overall workforce.”
Other key findings regarding Utah’s government expenditures include the following:
- Whether measured by state government expenditures per $1,000 of TPI or by state and local government employment as a percent of total state nonagricultural employment, or by wages, government in Utah is not growing relative to personal income or total nonagricultural employment or total wages.
- State and local government employment as a percent of the state’s total nonagricultural workforce fell from 15.4% to 14.2%. State and local government wages also showed a similar decline.
- The percentage point decline in state and local employment along with an even steeper decline in federal employment means that private sector employment in Utah as a percent of total employment is at its highest ever—83.7% in 2019.
The full report is now available online.