Salt Lake Region first in job creation

The Job Creation Index for 2014 by Gallup.
The Job Creation Index for 2014 by Gallup.

The Salt Lake City metro leads the nation in job creation according to a new Gallup survey.  Salt Lake City tied with Austin, Texas as the metros with the highest Job Creating Index score.  The index score is based on the percentage of employees reporting hiring activity within their companies among the largest 50 metropolitan areas.

Salt Lake ranked third the last time Gallup calculated the Job Creating Index score for the 2012-2013 years combined.  The previous first place leader, Houston, tied for third in this year’s index.

The Gallup report attributes Salt Lake’s job growth to the region’s expanding technology, tourism and energy sectors.

According to the Gallup survey, most of the growth in the top metros is in the technology sector, especially emerging sectors in Salt Lake and Austin.  Austin and Salt Lake benefit from a lower cost of living than the traditional technology sectors in San Fransisco and San Jose (which ranked third and fourth respectively).

Salt Lake is more affordable than many of the top ranking cities on the index.  A report released Monday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), shows that income growth is outpacing rising rents in Salt Lake.  Nationally the opposite is occurring, the average residential rent has risen more quickly than the average income.

“In the past five years, a typical rent rose 15 percent while the income of renters grew by only 11 percent,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in a NRA press release. “The gap has worsened in many areas as rents continue to climb and the accelerated pace of hiring has yet to give workers a meaningful bump in pay.”

According to the NRA report, the average rent in Salt Lake increased 10.2 percent between 2008 and 2014, while the average income for renters between the ages of 25 and 44 increased by 32.03 percent over the same time period.

In comparison, rents in Austin grew by 19.97 percent, while incomes grew by 14.75 percent.  Like Austin, the Houston and San Jose metros scored high on the job index, but rents are increasing at a much faster rate than incomes.  The rent to income ratio for Houston is 19.41/13.3 percent.  Rent increases have outpaced incomes in San Jose more than almost anywhere else in the country, where rents increased at nearly three times the rate as incomes.   Rents in San Jose rose by 25.6 percent, while incomes for renters rose just 8.36 percent.

According to Jeffrey Jones at Gallup, Salt Lake and Austin “may be increasingly attractive destinations for tech workers, given salaries that are becoming more competitive for the industry, along with a much lower cost of living than in California.”

Current construction activity reflects the growth in Salt Lake Region.  According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the construction sector is the busiest it has been in years and is expected to continue to grow significantly.

Salt Lake has recently received plenty of positive press for its healthy economy and statewide growth.  In January, Salt Lake was ranked the sixth best-performing large city in the United States in the 2014 Best-Performing Cities report released by the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic think tank.  In November, Forbes Magazine again ranked Utah as the “best state for business” for 2014.

A November article from The Atlantic named Salt Lake City as one of the best options for Millennials, based on data from a 2013 report measuring economic mobility combined with housing affordability.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.