Inside Sources: Salt Lake economy firing on all pistons

Apr 16, 2021, 5:12 PM
Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Derek Miller and Patricia Jones, CEO of the Women's Leadership Institute, speak during a press conference on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Photo: Marisa Bomis / Salt Lake Chamber)
(Photo: Marisa Bomis / Salt Lake Chamber)

SALT LAKE CITY — Once again, when it comes to strong muscles in its economy, Salt Lake City is punching above its weight when compared to other U.S. cities.

Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Derek Miller joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson Friday to break down a new Wall Street Journal survey showing the Salt Lake City area with the best job market in the nation in 2020.

The WSJ article published April 9 reads: 

“Salt Lake City has top-notch ski resorts, challenging bike trails and breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountains. It also is home to the hottest job market in the U.S.

As the pandemic raged through the U.S. in 2020, no metropolitan area in the country expanded the size of its labor force more on a percentage basis than Utah’s capital. It also had the lowest average unemployment rate and the highest share of people working or looking for jobs. These signs of strength helped it rank first among 53 large metro areas in an annual examination of U.S. labor markets conducted by The Wall Street Journal, after ranking No. 4 in 2019.”

Hardworking Utahns make economy strong

“Why is it that we are attracting so much talent, so much investment, especially as we have gone through the pandemic?” Matheson asked. “What is truly driving these things?”

“In some ways it was the pandemic itself that caused […] Utah to continue to rise to the top,” Miller said. “We always say that the cream rises to the top, and that happens when we have challenges, and certainly this past year has been just that, not just on the health side but on the economic side.”

Miller cited five factors as driving Utah’s economic climate to excellence:

  • Stable tax rates,
  • predictable regulation,
  • talented workforce
  • colleges, universities and applied technology
  • and hardworking people

Boyd added that Salt Lake City has a new airport and a inland port in development to help the economy further succeed.

Keep moving up and up

“I want to ask you about some of the people who maybe towards the bottom rungs of the economic ladder or those who had to switch to lower paying jobs during the pandemic,” Matheson said. “How’s the opportunity and the rise working for them?” 

“Upward mobility is another area where we’re top in the country, which is why so many people want to move here for opportunity,” Miller said. “You have a better chance of moving up the economic ladder in Utah than anywhere else in the country. We need to make sure that continues, otherwise we’re going to see some of the divisiveness come to our doorstep that we’re seeing in other parts of the country.”

Next is Now: What’s next for our economy? 

“I want to know what you’re looking for next,” Matheson said. “What’s on the horizon that maybe we aren’t paying enough attention to that we should really start focusing on?” 

Miller said he expects Utah to continue to receive federal money as President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill works its way through Congress.

“Utah is in a very good position because we didn’t have to backfill a lot of lack of tax revenue,” Miller said. “In fact, in some areas, like retail sales tax, we actually had banner year that puts Utah in a very good position to invest some of this [federal] money in areas that will keep our quality of life strong into the future.”


Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson, who is also the opinion editor of the Deseret News, can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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Inside Sources: Salt Lake economy firing on all pistons