by Howard Stephenson Utah is the eleventh most economically competitive state in the nation according to a new study from the Beacon Hill Institute (BHI), Suffolk University, Boston Massachusetts.
“Competitiveness” relates to a state’s ability to ensure and sustain both economic growth and a high level of per capita income. BHI authors Jonathan Haughton and Vadym Slobodyanyuk combined more than three dozen indicators into nine categories, which represent elements of competitiveness. An overall index was used to rank the states according to their general competitiveness.
Two of Utah’s six neighboring states ranked higher than the Beehive State in the competitiveness study while four ranked lower. Wyoming, ranking 3rd nationally, was the most competitive western state followed by Colorado which ranked 6th. Idaho placed close behind Utah at 12th. Arizona and New Mexico ranked 41st and 42nd respectively, followed by Nevada at 46th.
“Along with its number 2 ranking in infrastructure, this state boasts strong human resources rooted in a high frequency of both high school and higher-degree holders. More attention to environmental policy and to increasing exports could push this state from number 11 into the top 10,” the study stated.
Government and Fiscal Policy
In reporting the categories of competitiveness, the study revealed that Utah ranked 15th nationally in the Government and Fiscal Policy category. The indicators in this category and their national rankings were: state bond rating-1st, average unemployment benefits-17th, workers compensation collections-40th, and budget deficit-31st.
Institutions & Security
Utah Ranked 16th in the Institutions & Security category which included changes in crime rates-15th, crimes per 100,000 inhabitants- 40th and murder per 100,000 inhabitants-6th (which means that we have the 6th lowest murder rate among the 50 states).
Utah ranked 2nd in the Infrastructure category which included the percent of households with computers-1st, percent of households with installed phones-10th, percent of households with Internet access-8th, air passengers per capita-6th, travel time to work-12th, average rental cost in a 2-bedroom apartment-32th.
Utah ranked 6st in the Human Resources category which included the percent of population that graduated form high school-4th, percent of labor force represented by unions-12th, unemployment rates-12th, percent of population enrolled in degree-granting institutions-2nd, percent of population born abroad-19th, infant mortality rate-4th and nonfederal physicians per capita-38th.
Utah ranked 11th in the Technology category which included National Science Foundation grants-19th, National Institutes of Health support to institutions per capita-15th, new patents issued per capita-18th, science and engineering graduate students per capita-10th, science and engineering degrees per capita-3th and high tech companies as percent of companies-11th.
Utah ranked 14th in the Finance category which included bank deposits per capita-8th.
Utah ranked 26th in the Openness category which included incoming foreign direct investment-13th and exports per capita- 32nd.
Utah ranked 12th in the Domestic competition category which included employer firm births per capita-6th.
Utah ranked 48th in the Environmental policy category which included electricity prices-7th and toxic release, pounds per capita-48th. Utah’s toxic release ranking should increase dramatically in the next study due to the new, clean process used by Utah’s only magnesium producer.
Among the study’s other key findings are:
- Competitiveness matters, explaining more than 25% of the variation in living standards, from one state to another.
- Some states have a high ranking for overall competitiveness, despite adverse government policies.
- Cold weather is no obstacle to competitiveness. Four of the top ten states are in New England. The Sunbelt states mainly fall in the bottom half of the overall rankings.
- Technology is important, but not in and of itself, determinative. Some states (Maryland, Rhode Island, New York) that rank high for technology have a relatively low overall ranking.