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Choice tidbits from Utah numbers

Utah has the lowest cigarette smoking rate in the country. No surprise there.

But did you know it also has one of the highest homeownership rates? And the highest percentage of men at work?

The new 2002 edition of the annual statistical abstract of the United States, released last month by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau, includes such information, covering facts and figures on subjects ranging from teen pregnancy rates to average snowfall and time spent volunteering.

The compilation has more than 1,400 tables and charts with statistics from the most recent year available.

Among the Utah stats included in the report:

In 2000, Utah had the lowest cigarette smoking rate in the country, with 12.9 percent of the 18-and-older population smoking compared with 23.3 percent nationally. Current cigarette smoking is defined as people who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime and who currently smoke every day or some days.

Utah's homeownership rate was higher than the national average in 2001. (It has been for the years, said Neil Ashdown, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.) In Utah, 72.4 percent of homes were owner-occupied compared to 67.8 percent nationally.

Utah had the lowest rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the country in 2000, with 24 percent of all traffic fatalities in Utah being alcohol-related compared with 40 percent nationally.

Utah had the highest male labor force participation rate in the country in 2001, with 81.7 percent of all 16-and-older employable civilian men having jobs, 7.3 percent higher than the national average. For females in the labor force, Utah ranked 23rd in the nation with 62.3 percent of employable women in the labor force, 2.2 percent higher than the national average.

Utah also led the country in 2000 for the percentage of residents who are Christians. Nearly three-fourths, 74.3 percent, of the state adheres to Christian beliefs. Utah was followed by North Dakota, which had 72.9 percent. The state with the lowest percentage of Christians was Oregon, with 30.1 percent.

As of 2000, the highest temperature in Utah was recorded June 5, 1985, in St. George, where the temperature reached 117 degrees. The lowest temperature on record: minus 69 degrees, which occurred Feb. 1, 1985, in Peter Sink in Logan Canyon.

The report also says that nationally, residents nearly doubled their recycling of trash over the past decade, and the number of hog farms decreased by more than half over a six-year period.

"It's interesting little facts," Ashdown said.

He said his office uses the statistics to answer questions from residents, researchers and media outlets.

The Abstract may be obtained by calling the U.S. Government Printing Office at 1-202-512-1800 or the National Technical Information Service on 1-800-553-6847.