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UTAH'S ECONOMY REBOUNDS FROM SHARP DIP IN MARCH

Utah's economy rebounded in April from an unexpected decline in March, according to a monthly survey funded by the Utah Purchasing Management Association and Creighton University.

Utah purchasing agents reported an overall index of 52.5 for April, up from 47 in March. That March number was a sharp decline from February."Utah seems to be rebounding from the hit it took (in March), which I believe was largely caused by uncertainty in the high-tech industries that have been fueling much of the state's growth," said Ernie Goss, professor of economics at Creighton, based in Omaha, Neb.

He said the new orders index for Utah of 57.7 was up strongly from March's 46.1, and the April production index of 53.3 also strengthened from March's 52.6.

The survey showed renewed strength for the Mountain States region as a whole in April. The regional index of 53.2 was up from 48.1 in March and 51.1 in February.

The index is based on a survey of purchasing managers in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Colorado led the three at 56.8, followed by Utah's 52.5 and Wyoming's 50.3.

Goss said the figures were positive news for Mountain States' economy.

"This report, and an analysis of the latest employment figures, indicates that (the three states) will continue to see solid growth over the next three to six months, but the growth will occur at a slower pace than the region has seen recently," he said.

Why is the economy improving in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming? Goss said he sees several trends:

- Consumer confidence is up.

- Anxiety over government shutdowns is over.

- Uncertainty that has plagued the high-technology sector in recent months seems to have subsided.

Goss said the increase in prices, reflected by the 3.7 percent regional gain in the price index in April, is the result of increasing economic activity combined with higher energy prices.

"If this trend continues, we could see higher inflation in the months ahead," he said. "Although no action by the Federal Reserve is likely in the short run, if things continue to heat up we could see higher interest rates in the not too distant future."