White House chief economist Jared Bernstein, under the crush of increasing inflationary pressure, detailed what he said are hallmarks of successful financial policies in Utah and elsewhere across the country.
In a call with reporters Monday, he added that President Joe Biden is adamant about working with Congress to combat inflation and open the supply chain to ease the pain that U.S. residents are feeling.
“We need help from Congress to lower some of the real constraints to family budgets, whether it’s housing costs, prescription drugs, child or elder care, the cost of education, we have an agenda to ameliorate all of those cost pressures,” he said. “But we need Congress to help.”
Here are five takeaways from the Monday briefing about Utah’s economy, including its unemployment rate, claims for unemployment insurance, the state’s gross domestic product and how many COVID-19 vaccination shots have gone into people’s arms:
- Since January 2021, the Utah economy has added 80,700 jobs and added more jobs than it lost during the pandemic.
- The state’s unemployment rate fell from 3.3% in January 2021 to 1.9% in April 2022. This is the lowest unemployment rate on record for Utah.
3. The quit rate — a measure of labor market strength, since people generally quit jobs to take better jobs — rose from 1.2% in January 2021 in Utah to 2.6% in March 2022.
4. Utah’s real gross domestic product grew 6.5% at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2021, and within its largest sector, financial services and real estate, real GDP grew 7.3% at an annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2021.
5. The number of fully vaccinated people in Utah is more than 2 million as of May 2022.
Bernstein added that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the U.S. budget deficit would fall by $1.7 trillion this year, the largest reduction in history.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox reacted to the briefing that credited Biden with Utah’s “robust” economic progress.
“We appreciate that the Biden administration has recognized Utah as the best economy in the nation,” Cox said. “However, that success is in spite of — not because of — the president’s flawed policies that continue to fuel hyper-inflation. Full credit for the state’s economic strength rests on the resilience, ingenuity, and hard work of Utahns. By keeping our economy open during the pandemic, and reducing taxes and unnecessary regulations, we have unleashed Utahns to build the top economy. There is much the president and his team could learn from this approach.”