Voices for Utah Children reports that Utah offers advantages over Texas

Sep 6, 2022, 1:00 PM

FILE: Kids jump and try to hit bubbles as they watch the Bountiful Handcart Days parade on Saturday...

FILE: Kids jump and try to hit bubbles as they watch the Bountiful Handcart Days parade on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report from Voices for Utah Children says Texas could learn a thing or two from Utah.

Namely, the report places the Beehive State over Texas in terms of economic opportunity and standard of living.

The report is part of a series the organization calls the “Working Families Benchmarking Project,” where analysts compare Utah to other states. According to its web page, Voices for Utah Children is a non-partisan advocate for Utah children and families.

So far in the series, the organization has done side-by-side breakdowns comparing Utah to Colorado, Minnesota, Idaho, Arizona with Texas making the latest entry.

Voices for Utah Children’s Economic Analyst Taylor Throne said, “it seems clear that Texas has more to learn from Utah than vice versa.”

Economic opportunity

Utah showed up strong in the Economic Opportunity portion of the report, outscoring Texas in 11 of 19 categories.

Throne says Utah’s strengths showed up in a few areas, including labor force participation and a low unemployment rate. “Utah ranks first in the nation for our low level of income inequality, while Texas ranks 38th,” Throne said. 

While both states are among the ten states with the lowest investment into education, Utah saw better math and reading scores for 4th and 8th graders. When it comes to education, Utah stands out much more at the university level, with more people attaining higher education.

“We also stand out for intergenerational mobility and rank number one for education funding fairness while Texas ranks 34th,” Throne said.

Standard of living

Where Utah really stood out was in Standard of Living, outpacing the Lone Star State in 20 of 22 categories.

Utah’s strengths in this category come from, “lower rates of poverty and uninsured children,” Throne said. “Utah also has shorter commutes, higher homeownership rates, and more volunteerism and voter participation.” 

What can Utah learn from Texas?

The report found Texas did outshine the Beehive State in a few areas, “including early childhood education for pre-k and full-day kindergarten,” the report stated.

Texas also has a smaller gender wage gap, which seems to be a part of Utah’s Achilles heel, as the state, “ranks among the worst states for gender equality,” the report said. Texas saw a smaller gap with all races and ethnicities except Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

The verdict

The report says there is one big reason Utah scored as well as it did in so many categories. “Higher levels of educational attainment translate into higher hourly wages, higher family incomes, and an overall higher standard of living,” the report states.

Voices for Utah Children’s State Priorities Partnership Director Matthew Weinstein added, “Utah’s economic successes put us in a position to make the new upfront investments we need to make now… [so] our children can have a better future,” Weinstein said.

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Voices for Utah Children reports that Utah offers advantages over Texas