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Outlook report forecasts expanding Utah economy

Sun Advocate reporter

Home values in Utah have increased during the last year.

In the 12-month period ending on March 31, home values jumped 17.01 percent, ranking Utah first in the nation in residential appreciation.

An increase in economic growth and net - migration is responsible for the rise in home values, according to the latest Zions Bank report.

The Provo-Orem area and Salt Lake City posted an increase of 19.67 percent in home values.

The Ogden-Clearfield area showed an increase of 15.70 percent, with Logan recording a modest rise in home values of 10.28 percent.

St. George reported greater gains in 2004 and 2005. But in 2007, St George posted a 4.25 percent increase in residential values.

During the last five-year period, Utah competed with the west, east and southwest markets.

Athough the competing regions posted declines, the Utah resident market jumped 48.29 percent.

The average home value climbed at locations across the United States by 53.53 percent in the same five year period.

The limited labor availability in Utah may slow the state's economy in the next 12 to 18 months, pointed out the Zions Bank report.

However, Utah should continue to keep up with the regions in the nation.

The cost of housing in Utah is likely to moderate, but the outlook remains promising, indicated the economic report.

Current home prices have experienced a drop in the real estate market on both coasts and the southwestern region of the U.S.

The interior west real estate market may experience more strength because of the situation.

Wages will also change in Utah in 2007, predicted the Zions Bank report.

The minimum wage in the state has been $5.15 since Sept. 1, 1997. Plans for an increase in the wage is set for three steps as set forth in legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress.

In the next two years beginning July 24, the minimum wage will increase from the current $5.15 to $5.85.

In 2008, the minimum wage will move to $6.55 and finally climb to $7.25 per hour on July 24, 2009.

The demands for products produced in Utah are increasing, noted the Zions Bank economic report.

More than 2,000 Utah companies exported goods last year to almost 200 countries in Europe, Canada and Asia.

In the last 12-month period, Utah added almost 54,000 employment opportunities statewide, with a current growth rate of 4.5 percent.

But the high demands for labor in Utah has caused the unemployment rate to experience a record low, averaging at 2.4 percent.

The jobless rate in Utah is the lowest average posted throughout the country.

Employers of the smaller companies are facing challenges because of the labor demand factors.

Competition for employees is becoming increasingly tougher because it is difficult to match the salaries and benefit packages of the larger companies.

The economic outlook in Utah will likely improve, predicted the latest Zions Bank report.

Tighter labor availability, soft coastal housing markets and the production of more solid interior performance will aid in the declining budget deficit.

In addition, modest inflation, stability in long- and short-term interest rates will aide Utah in the global marketplace, concluded the latest Zions Bank economic report.

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