April ICEL Meeting Recap by Melissa Mickelsen, CBA, Geneva Rock Products, Inc.
Dr. Aric Krause with Westminster College joined ICEL in April to present his annual economic update. He started by noting that the economy is not as bad as it could be, but we are still looking at several serious challenges. He summarized by stating that “things are murky.”
On the positive side, Aric pointed out that several industries are rebounding nationwide, including professional and business services which encompass credit. Also, the national bankruptcy rate started to decline in 2011 and household debt decreased dramatically in the years between 2008 and 2011. Both unemployment and under-employment are also dropping. In Utah job creation is outpacing the rest of the United States, and almost every industry in Utah has improved, including construction. The state’s poverty rate is the third lowest in the country.
On the other hand, construction is still contracting nationwide. Long term growth has continued to be in government, leisure and hospitality, education and health services, most of which is tax funded. Consumer confidence still has not hit numbers high enough to indicate an economic growth phase. Income, in terms of purchasing power, is at the same level as it was in 1986 and the percentage of home ownership has decreased dramatically since 2008. More Americans now live in poverty, fewer Americans have health care, and more Americans are behind or delinquent on their mortgage payments. In Utah, salaries are at only 80% of the national average, and on average, those salaries support 20% more people.