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Utah ranks No. 1 in the nation for GDP growth — despite the pandemic

Utah tops Forbes list for states with biggest economic growth

Forbes recently ranked Utah No. 1 in the nation for its surging economy.
Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City is pictured on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Forbes recently ranked Utah No. 1 in the nation for its surging economy.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Utah has topped another national list for its booming economy.

Forbes this week ranked the Beehive State No. 1 in a list of 10 states with the biggest growths in GDP, or gross domestic product, a standard measure of value added created through the production of goods and services.

“The Utah economy has been a powerhouse in recent decades, hence the reason why it takes the No. 1 spot,” Forbes reported. “Over the last five years, Utah’s GDP grew by an excellent 19.1%, the second-highest growth rate for that period out of all 50 states.”

Only Washington, which Forbes ranked No. 2 on its list, outpaced Utah in five-year growth in GDP, up by 21.9%.

But Utah ranked higher than Washington for its growth going back a decade, with a GDP that grew by more than a third (36.6%) from about $123.47 billion in 2010 to an annual average of $168.62 billion in 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

Looking back even further, over the past 20 years, Forbes called Utah’s economic growth “even more outstanding,” up 82% from an annual real GDP of $92.62 billion in 2000 to nearly $169 billion in 2020.

Forbes also particularly credited Utah for its GDP growth in the first quarter of 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic — a surge of $178.2 billion, the highest quarterly GDP in Utah’s history.

Utah’s economy bounced back from the pandemic faster than any state in the nation. As the Deseret News reported in March, Utah was the only state in the country that gave as big of a boost to education as well as funded a tax credit. And in rankings of 2020 state tax revenue during the pandemic, Utah placed near the top of the nation for revenue growth with a boost of 8%, coming up second to Idaho’s 10.4%.

Utah had the smallest decline in GDP during the pandemic, Forbes reported, but its annual real GDP fell a fraction of a percent — only 0.1% — from 2019 to 2020. That’s compared to the tourist destination of Hawaii, which suffered a year-over-year decline of 8% in real GDP from 2019 to 2020.

Idaho took the No. 3 spot behind Utah and Washington. Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, California, Texas, Georgia and Florida followed.