Salt Lake City: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Salt Lake City was originally a farming community; it also depended on mining until the early 1980s when foreign competition began to erode profits from that industry. Today it has grown into a diverse economic region. As the state capital, county seat of Salt Lake County, and the largest city in the four-county Wasatch Front metropolitan area, the city is a government, commercial, and industrial center for Utah and much of the Intermountain West.

The service sector produces the most jobs in the city, especially computer and health care services. Government employment is considerable, with the State of Utah, University of Utah, and Salt Lake County among the city's top employers. A number of national financial institutions have established branch offices in Salt Lake City, making it the center of banking and finance for the region. Salt Lake City is the largest retail and wholesale market in Utah, and the city supports a thriving tourism industry. The construction industry remains significant. Salt Lake City is the international headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Items and goods produced: petroleum products, electronics, missiles

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Salt Lake County Office of Business Economic Development offers incentives to new and existing companies in the form of loans, grants, and on-the-job training. It also provides no-cost monthly workshops. The Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development offers similar incentives as well as assistance with site selection, financial planning, and permit applications.

State programs

Utah's Centers of Excellence Program funds viable research at the college and university level, bridging the gap between technological innovation and marketplace success. Since its creation in 1986 the program has resulted in thousands of new high-tech jobs and significant growth for many of the state's tech companies. The Economic Development Corporation of Utah plays a dual role in the state's commercial success, promoting expansion of local companies as well as relocation for out-of-state firms. EDCUTAH offers a considerable network of public- and private-sector contacts, as well as support with site selection, media relations, and industry research. The Utah Small Business Development Center (USBDC) helps established and start-up companies prepare business plans, set sales goals, identify customers and the competition, analyze the market, and research financing sources. The USBDC operates in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development, and Salt Lake Community College. It offers training and resources in the areas of entrepreneurship, business development, the law, international business, financial management, e-commerce, and computer technology. The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce represents 1,900 businesses across the state, lobbying the government and providing networking opportunities to benefit its member companies.

Job training programs

Custom Fit is an employee training program offered through the Utah College of Applied Technology, state colleges, and the local business community. It provides training in specific technologies, computer skills, safety certification, leadership, management and team-building. The Utah State Legislature allocates annual funding to Custom Fit, covering a substantial portion of the cost to employers.

State funding is also provided for Short Term Intensive Training programs across Utah. Training is offered at the state college level at a 66 percent discount to potential employers or employees. The program is customized to match full-time job seekers with the needs of specific companies.

Development Projects

Construction in Salt Lake City has declined somewhat since a boom leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Gateway, a multi-use development on Salt Lake City's west side, was completed in 2001. Covering nearly 30 acres, Gateway offers shopping, dining, and entertainment in an open-air setting, as well as office and residential housing space.

A recently completed $1.59 billion reconstruction of Interstate 15 will address traffic concerns in the Salt Lake area for the next 20 years. A commuter railway from Weber County to downtown Salt Lake City is expected to open in 2007. A $20 million Intermodal Transportation Center is under construction in the Gateway area, and will accommodate bus, automobile, bicycle, Amtrak, and Greyhound passengers.

Intermountain Health Care is planning a $362 million flag-ship hospital in the Salt Lake Valley with a projected completion date of 2006. The Salt Palace Convention Center will also complete its latest expansion in 2006.

Other projects in the planning phase or construction include a $45 million renovation of the Utah Theatre, restoration of the historic Frank Moss Courthouse, expansion of the Utah Children's Museum in a new Gateway location, and increased meeting space and accommodations at several major hotels.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Corporation of Utah, 201 South Main Street, Suite 2010, Salt Lake City, UT 84111; telephone (801)328-8824; fax (801)531-1460

Commercial Shipping

Utah's free port law makes it an ideal location for the import and export of goods. Salt Lake City is a full-service customs port city with a foreign trade zone. The Salt Lake International Airport handles more than 550 million pounds of air cargo and express mail each year.

Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railways offer freight service throughout Utah. The state's railroad lines all converge in the Salt Lake-Ogden area, making it a convenient interline switching route for destinations across the country. About 2,000 interstate and intrastate motor freight carriers operate in Utah.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The services sector is Salt Lake City's largest employment division, with approximately 1,100 new jobs added in the last year. Health care and computer technology are two dominant subsections. Construction remains important to the local economy, despite declining employment since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Trade employment also remains high. Salt Lake City's unemployment rate is declining, and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce expects continued job growth in the years to come.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Salt Lake City metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 565,000

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 34,800

manufacturing: 52,100

trade, transportation and utilities: 118,600

information: 17,700

financial activities: 44,700

professional and business services: 84,900

educational and health services: 53,000

leisure and hospitality: 51,600

other services: 18,200

government: 89,300

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $15.34

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (January 2005)

Salt Lake City: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
State of Utah 22,000
Intermountain Health Care 22,000
University of Utah 17,000
Salt Lake County 6,000
Smith's Food & Drug Centers 6,000
U.S. Postal Service 5,500
Delta Air Lines 5,000
Novus Credit Services 5,000
Salt Lake City School District 4,000
Cordant Technologies 3,500
Qwest Communications 3,000
Zions First International Bank 3,000
Salt Lake City Corporation 3,000
PacifiCorp 2,500
Wells Fargo 2,000
Sears Roebuck and Company 2,000
Fred Meyer Stores 2,000

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Salt Lake City area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $239,650

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 97.3 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Up to 7.0% on taxable income exceeding $7,500

State sales tax rate: Ranges from 5.75% to 7.0% (depending on municipality)

Local income tax rate: none

Local sales tax rate: 6.6% (Salt Lake City)

Property tax rate: Levied at the state and local level, based on assessed valuation; rate in 2005, .015288%

Economic Information: Economic Development Corporation of Utah, 201 South Main Street, Suite 2010, Salt Lake City, UT 84111; telephone (801)328-8824; fax (801)531-1460. Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, Demographic and Economic Analysis, 116 State Capitol, Salt Lake City, UT 84114; telephone (801)538-1036;fax (801) 538-1547. Utah Department of Workforce Services, PO Box 45249, Salt Lake City, UT 84145-0249; telephone (801)526-9675; fax (801)526-9211; email dwscontactus Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Utah, David Eccles School of Business, 1645 E Campus Center Dr., Rm 401, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-9302; telephone (801)581-6333; fax (801)581-3354; email