At the bottom of the recession in 2009, Utah’s economy was losing jobs at the rate of six percent a year. A year later, the number of jobs was growing again, but slowly. Today, Utah is adding jobs at close to three percent annually and the state’s unemployment rate has dropped below six percent for the first time since 2008.
Utahns cringe when they look at the prices on the gas pumps these days, though prices here haven't reached the levels seen in California this fall. Most of the gasoline that's refined and sold in Utah comes from oil produced in the Mountain West. But Utah Foundation researcher Shawn Teigan says the price still responds to national and international markets.
The Affordable Care Act promises to extend the reach of health care coverage to many people who don't have it now. Critics say it will do that at a huge cost in both money and individual liberty. But the mandate in the law for nearly everyone to buy health insurance has been upheld by the U-S Supreme Court and that requirement will take effect in 2014. The question facing Utah and the rest of country is how to implement the provisions that are maintained by the states.
When Utah's economy was roaring along in the middle of the decade, then-Governor Jon Huntsman and legislative leaders were looking for ways to reduce the burden of taxes on Utah's economy. It seemed as though there was plenty of new money to raise pay for teachers, build new roads and expand the reach of social services.
Higher education dropped out of the Utah Foundation’s survey of voter concerns over the past couple of election cycles, but it turned up again in its 2012 poll. It’s risen to the 6th position in the ranking of top ten issues identified by the Utah Priorities Project.
Concern about the environment moved up a notch this year in the Utah Foundation’s survey of issues important to voters. And while there are many aspects of that issue to look at, voters insist air pollution is at the top of their environmental agenda.
The increasing polarization of the political process in Utah and across the nation is the next issue identified by the Utah Foundation as part of its Utah Priorities Project. In their open-ended survey, voters ranked partisan politics the 8th most important concern.
In the second part of KUER’s series The Utah Priorities Project, Utah Foundation researchers take a look at poverty in Utah. It’s an issue that is new to the list of top ten issues identified by voters in a statewide survey, coming in at #9.
The non-partisan Utah Foundation surveys voters every election cycle to find out what issues concern them most. It's called the Utah Priorities Project, and KUER is presenting a series of programs examining these issues with the help of Foundation researchers.