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Utah ranks as national leader in wage growth, expansion

Utah ranks as national leader in wage growth, expansion


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SALT LAKE CITY — A recent study shows that Utah wages rank quite competitively across the Intermountain West.

When comparing Utah's wages with the national average, the Beehive State has a higher percentage of growth in every industry but one.

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently released data on industry earnings and wages through 2014. Industry earnings are the total combined revenues of employees and businesses in a specific industry, while the Commerce Department's wage metrics focus solely on employee compensation.

The data was analyzed in-depth to determine how Utah compares in wage compensation with six neighboring states in the Intermountain region: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Among those states, Utah ranked first or second in seven of 10 industry sectors during 2010-14. The major finding was that Utah ranked first in "total private sector wages," leading the region with 25.8 percent growth over the past five years.

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"What is even more impressive about the comparison is that Utah's wages follow our industry earnings very closely," said Ben Hart, managing director of business services at the Governor's Office of Economic Development. "When we compare the national wages and industry earnings to Utah's wages and industry earnings, we see less impressive growth on the national level."

An important indicator for a healthy economy is efficient, sustainable growth, Hart noted.

"This data reaffirms that Utah has one of the healthiest and most robust economies in the country," he said.

The state's wage growth ranked first in retail trades, health care, and professional, scientific and technical services. In other industries — such as construction, financial, wholesale trades, and accommodation/food services — Utah's wages ranked second regionally.

In addition, Utah ranked third in manufacturing, fifth in transport and warehousing, and fourth in oil, gas and minerals. The state was above the national average in every industry sector except oil, gas and mining.

"We are pleased to see that Utah's wages are comparing very well to our neighboring states," GOED Executive Director Val Hale said. "This shows that Utah is not only the best state to do business, but it is also a great state to make a living."

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Jasen Lee

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