Utah pulled average grades in its economic development performance, while states in the northeast were sterling performers in facing challenges of modernization and global competitiveness, a recent report said.

"The 1989 Development Report Card for the States," published annually by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, based in Washington, D.C., grades the economies of each of the 50 states from A to F, using over 125 measures gathered into four indexes: Economic Performance, Business Vitality, Resource Capacity and Political Strength.Utah earned Cs in economic performance, business vitality and political strength and a B in economic capacity.

Acute economic distress has become chronic in the Great Plains and Mountain West, the report said. Of the 13 states that receive no A's or B's, seven - Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming - are from this region.

"Most troubling is that these states lag far behind others in efforts to reverse their economic circumstances," said corporation president, Robert E. Friedman.

The states that do best on the report card, most in the Northeast, do so because of a long history of joint public and private investment in the people, businesses and foundations of their state economies.

"States that do well have a public sector that is an intelligent and active partner of the private sector in making sure that basic investments in services needed to compete are in place," Friedman said.

The 1989 report card found disturbing nationwide patterns.

"The disparity between rich and poor is increasing in virtually every state and has worsened by 20 percent in West Virginia," Friedman said.

Forty-seven states - all but Hawaii, Alaska and North Dakota - recorded increases in income disparity from 1980 to the mid-1980s.

Here is the economic report card for Utah, its neighbors and the nation's best and worst for economic development.

The grades are in four areas:

-Economic performance (PER), taking into account employment, earnings, job quality, poverty, income distribution, crime, and environmental safety and health.

-Business vitality (VIT), referring to the competitiveness of existing businesses, industrial diversity and the ability to generate new jobs in new businesses.

-Economic capacity (CAP), covering human, technological, physical and financial resources.

-Policy strength (POL), measuring policies on taxes, education, infrastructure, business support, and development, and toward disadvantaged communities and individuals.