With 14 ski resorts – 10 of which are within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake International Airport – Utah attracts millions of powder enthusiasts each year. It’s also home to “The Mighty Five,” a collection of awe-inspiring national parks that includes Canyonlands, Arches and Zion. Together, these factors have helped contribute to the state’s impressive 44% increase in tourism revenue between 2004 and 2014. That’s the fastest growth for any sector of the state’s economy, and in 2014, Utah tourism generated over a billion dollars in local and state tax revenue. Fittingly, Utah means “people of the mountains,” and it accurately describes the people who live among Utah's 300 mountains ranging above 10,000 feet. With mountains in all of Utah's 29 counties, just about anywhere in the state is a good place for outdoor activities like biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and backpacking.
Another factor fueling the Beehive State’s active lifestyle is the fact that – with a median age of 29.2 - it has the youngest state population in the nation. In fact, it’s the only state with a median age under 30. What’s more, Utah has the highest fertility rate in the U.S., the most people per household, the highest percentage of households headed by married couples and the highest percentage of households with children. Much of this can be linked to Utah’s predominant Mormon religion, which espouses large families and is practiced by 60% of state residents. Salt Lake City (SLC), the state’s capital and largest city with a metro area population of over 1.1 million, is home to the LDS church’s massive Salt Lake Temple and surrounding 10-acre Temple Square.
As of early 2016, Utah had a statewide population of more than 2.9 million people. But this figure is changing fast, given that Utah is the fourth fastest growing state in the country with an estimated growth rate of 8.4% between 2010 and 2015. 88% of the population is white, 13% is Hispanic, 2% is Asian, 2% is multiracial, 1% is black and 1% is American Indian. The median household income was $58,821 in early 2016 – roughly $5,000 higher than the U.S. median – while the poverty rate was 12%, approximately two points lower than the national rate. Notably, Utah dramatically decreased its number of homeless citizens by 72% between 2006 and 2015 with their innovative Housing First program, which provides permanent apartments with no strings attached.
Statewide, Utah had a median home value of $248,480 in early 2016 – approximately $65,000 higher than the U.S. median – and a median rental price of $1,022. Not surprisingly, given its rapid population growth, the state enjoyed a 10-year total appreciation rate of 29% between 2006 and 2016, one of the higher rates in the nation. Prices do vary by city, however. In Salt Lake City proper, the median home value was $282,519, while in ritzy Park City, approximately 30 minutes away, it was $829,639. Other suburbs are more affordable, however, including Ogden and Provo, which are both a 45-minute commute from SLC from opposite directions. They had median home values of $146,027 and $240,621, respectively, in early 2016.
Utah ranks as one of the top states in educational attainment, as more than 90 percent of Utah residents are high school graduates while over 30 percent hold a bachelor's degree. This well-educated workforce is one key to the state’s strong economy, which generated a gross domestic product of $146 billion in 2015 and a low unemployment rate of 3.5%, some 30% lower than the U.S. average. It also helped Utah be named the best state for business for the fourth consecutive year by the 2015 Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business Study. Leading industries in the state include advanced composites (everything from bike wheels to airplane parts), aerospace (Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin), data centers (Oracle, Adobe, Ebay, National Security Agency), digital media (Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Studios) and distribution (thanks to SLC’s central hub location).