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The City Café

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Just like in Lake Woebegone (“where all our children are above average”), we like to think of ourselves as doing better than all of our neighbors.  And, in Utah, because of our super high birth rate, our population tends to grow faster than most states, and to a certain extent, and under the right conditions, this can drive a higher than average job growth rate.  For example, right now, Utah’s job growth rate is running between 2.5% to 2.9% depending on who is counting.  This is about a 1.5 percentage points higher than the national employment growth rate of 1.1%.  The chart above, although a bit complex, indicates how the Salt Lake City Metro (SLC) and Provo Metro area job machines are faring with competitive metros across the West.

1)     Salt Lake Metro’s job engine is doing well relative to last year, but is starting to level off relative to three months ago, as negative stock market and construction news hit from August and September.  So based on the chart above it is “improving”, but not “expanding” much.

2)     In contrast, the Provo Metro job area appears to be running full tilt, both with respect to last year and with respect to three months ago.  Check the upper, far right part of the chart where Provo is all by itself.

Another nice feature of this chart from Moody’s Analytics is that the size of each Metro’s circle reflects total employment size.  So L.A. is the biggest circle.

We tried to replicate Moody’s data but couldn’t do it without a lot more work.  But the following graph, using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from the St. Louis FED, indicates that both the Provo Metro (Utah and Juab counties) and the Ogden Metro (Davis, Weber and Morgan counties) were outperforming the Salt Lake City Metro area (Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit counties) on the last data point of September 2011.

It appears that the Ogden-Clearfield Metro was growing at a 3.7% year-over-year-clip in September 2011 (green), compared to growth rates of 2.8% for the Provo-Orem Metro (red) and 1.7% for the Salt Lake City Metro (blue).


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