Utah's job market will continue to increase - at least until next year - a member of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget predicts.
Natalie Gochnour, speaking last weekend at the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum, said the state had a 5.7 percent increase in jobs during 1995, compared with a 3.5 percent national growth average."We feel very comfortable saying this growth will be sustained," Gochnour said, indicating that while it can't last forever, it will continue for at least one more year.
She said only Utah and Nevada have job growth rates that exceed 5 percent and that no one ever thought Utah's upswing would continue as long as it has.
Construction is the top new job area, driven by high activity in residential housing. Last year was the fifth straight year of double-digit growth for the construction industry in Utah.
In population statistics, she said Davis County has the highest growth rate among Wasatch Front counties with 1.9 percent, followed by Salt Lake at 1.8 percent, Weber at 1.7 and Box Elder and Tooele at 1 percent each. The state growth average is higher - at 2.2 percent - though.
Gochnour said Tooele County's growth rate is perhaps the most impressive because it has occurred despite large government employment cutbacks in the county.
She expects the Wasatch Front and its eastern mountain counties' population to increase by 1 million residents by the year 2020. This estimate is conservative, she said, and does not include any 2002 Winter Olympic Games possibilities.
"There's no quantitative way to measure how the Olympics will influence numbers," she said.
Utah still has the nation's highest fertility rate, but Gochnour said projecting that and mortality rates are the easy parts of population estimates.
"New people coming in are the difficult parts," she said.
She also said Utah's economy is more diverse than ever and that water supply for the state's growing population is probably adequate for another 10-12 years. After that, it's uncertain.