Utah’s Business Index Skyrockets
Deseret News (Salt Lake City)
The economy soared in three Mountain states last month, with Utah leading Colorado and Wyoming in new hiring and manufacturing production, according to a report Thursday from the Creighton Economic Forecasting Group.
The report tracks business conditions based on an index that ranges from zero to 100. Utah’s index reading in January skyrocketed to 86.8 from December’s 53.6, the report said.
“January’s growth was broad-based for industries in Utah,” said Ernie Goss, an economics professor at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. “Advances were especially significant for trucking firms, and nondurable-goods manufacturers, including food processors. Firms with close ties to the transportation equipment manufacturers detailed pullbacks in January economic activity.”
Over the next 20 years, Utah will witness a 140 percent increase in the number of people ages 65 and older, according to a November report by the Brookings Institute. This “age-wave,” according to the report, will have profound effects on America’s cities, shaping how and where baby boomers and seniors live.
Those changes will be felt strongly in Salt Lake City, where a rush of new residential housing is planned.
The city already has roughly 3,400 residential units in the central business district, providing housing to 6,000 people, according to James Wood, director of the University of Utah’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Over the next five years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ estimated $1.5 billion City Creek Center project in downtown Salt Lake City will add five new residential towers to the skyline, with about 430 new residential housing units.
But if market conditions and demand are strong, the number of residential units in the project could be as high as 700, according to Dale Bills, spokesman for City Creek Center.
Average rents rose to $674 – up by $33 a month from 2005. The 5.1 percent increase is still the largest in more than a decade. The days of low rent increases, reduced deposits and freebies to attract renters along the Wasatch Front are only a happy memory.
At the same time, vacancy rates at Salt Lake County apartments declined to 5.1 percent at year’s end, down from 6.5 percent at the end of 2005 and 10.9 percent in 2002.
I started buying SLC at the end of 2004 and I’ve seen a pretty good run. I still have half the homes I bought and I’ll probably hang on to them. Utah seems to have an opposite cycle from California, so if I pick up a few homes locally in San Diego at the bottom of this cycle, I’ll always have something that appreciating.