March 28, 2014 – Results of a recent statewide poll indicate a significant percentage of Utahns view the high-quality labor force as the single greatest driver of state growth, while many believe that low levels of funding for public education pose the greatest threat to Utah’s future economy.
The survey, conducted in partnership by Dan Jones & Associates and the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, shows 33 percent of respondents believe the state’s exceptional workforce is most responsible for Utah’s economic growth, followed by 26 percent who believe the quality of life is the main driver. Approximately 19 percent of respondents indicate they consider state incentives that promote business expansion and relocation to Utah as the key element to boosting the economy.
Broken down by political affiliation, Republicans were more likely to believe the state’s labor force is the biggest driver of economic growth (36 percent), while Democrats were more likely to believe the state incentives were the biggest drivers (26 percent).
“Utahns are well aware of the state’s strong economy,” commented Dan Jones. “Utah’s workers are young and well-educated, and roughly one-third are bilingual. This capability is attractive to businesses with global operations like eBay, Goldman Sachs and Proctor and Gamble.
The survey also revealed the factors Utahns believe pose the greatest threat to the state’s future economic vitality. Thirty-five percent of respondents (the largest group) feel that low levels of funding for public education is the issue most likely to stall future growth, followed by 26 percent who believe political uncertainty surrounding national fiscal policy represents the main risk, and 24 percent believe Utah’s poor air quality is the most important issue to tackle in order to promote economic growth.
Opinions on this issue varied greatly when broken down by political affiliation. Nearly half of all Democrats (47 percent) believe inadequate funding for public education is the state’s main economic threat, compared to 29 percent of Republicans. The largest percentage of Republicans (37 percent) feel that political uncertainty surrounding national fiscal policy is the greatest risk, compared to only 6 percent of Democrats.
“Democrats take the public education funding issue very seriously,” said Natalie Gochnour, an associate dean at the David Eccles School of Business. “This is an issue that deserves attention, and this is an issue we can control, compared to the political wrangling in Washington related to fiscal policy, which is largely out of our hands.”
The survey was distributed via email to a random sampling of Utahns across the state, and 740 people responded with their opinions on Utah’s economy.