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The winners and the losers

New construction of town homes in Midvale, reflected in the positive signs of the May Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Midvale.
New construction of town homes in Midvale, reflected in the positive signs of the May Utah Consumer Attitude Index (CAI) Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Midvale.
Tom Smart, Deseret News

Winner: Good news if you own a home — Utah's foreclosure rate has dropped below the nation average, and the number of completed annual foreclosures nationwide has fallen to a five-year low. For Utah, the news is significant when you consider the state ranked ninth in the nation for foreclosures during the last half of 2011, and 10th in the first half of 2012. During the year ending in April, 4,105 foreclosures were completed in the Beehive State. While that is still too many, it's clear the economy finally is beginning to recover from the real estate bust that nearly set it over the edge.

Loser: If the allegations coming from the Utah State Tax Commission are correct, a former DMV employee was using confidential state records to track down personal information about other drivers and commit crimes against them. Officials said the female employee was involved in a road rage incident with another driver, and that driver's car was subsequently set afire in the driveway the next day. The woman has been fired from the DMV but not charged. Officials say they don't know how many people have had their information used illegally. This is the sort of thing that can damage public trust in important institutions unless authorities take decisive and well-publicized action.

Winner: Nationally, only 41 percent of Americans live within their means, according to a study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency Foundation. But in Utah, only 18 percent say they spent more than their income in 2012. That was an improvement over figures documented in 2009, and it shows people in the Beehive State have a better than average understanding of finances. When presented with five basic financial questions, 49 percent of Utahns answered at least four correctly, which was 10 percent better than the national average. Clearly, there is room for improvement, but financial good sense is a strong indicator for the long-term financial health of a community or state.