Issue Position: Economic Development
A strong economy is key to growth and progress in Utah. It is the foundation upon which all other priorities rest. Since announcing his bid for governor in September 2003, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. has intently focused on creating meaningful policy solutions to assist with the growing demands of the present day while preparing future generations for a better tomorrow. As a businessman, Huntsman felt a top priority in his Administration would be strengthening Utah's economy to create an increased flow of revenue to provide adequate resources necessary to support key initiatives.
Utah's economy leading up to and including 2004 was filled with varying economic pressures. Among those strains were the antiquated tax structure, recession, and struggle to adequately fund public education. As one of the fastest growing states in the Nation, Utah needed a strategic plan to outline the steps necessary to meet the demanding news of now and yet to come.
In an effort to organize the many functions necessary to begin the arduous task of bolstering the economy, Huntsman outlined a ten-point plan highlighting the efforts needed to turn the trends. At the mid-point of the administration, it is an understatement to claim success has been found within each of these areas. This is not to suggest Huntsman's work is complete, but rather measurable improvements have been made. Since Huntsman assumed office in 2005, more than 100,000 jobs have been added to Utah's economy. The average wages in Utah have increased nearly 10% which translates into salaries reaching nearly $35,000. Unemployment rates are near all-time lows of around 2.5%. These efforts, in addition to many others, have increased total state revenue by more than $1 B within the last 32 months.
For the past two consecutive years, Utah's economy has experienced strong growth and continues to out-perform the Nation with job growth at more than four times the national rate of 1.1%. Utah's economic forecast is promising though economic expansion within various industries has left little room for acceleration.