Rankings Must Be Kept in Perspective

By Governor Gary R. Herbert

While I like to crunch numbers with the best of them, there is risk in focusing too much on numbers and losing perspective or sight of the big picture. A case in point are the newly released CNBC rankings, which listed Utah as the fifth best place to do business, down from its second place finish the year before.

Let me explain.

Even though Utah is a small state, our economy rests on proven principles that lie at the heart of economic success. During the Great Recession, those fundamentals made Utah into an economic David that outperformed Goliath states long on size, but short on correct principles, or in other key areas.

Even so, it is important to remember Utah has the 18th-smallest real GDP in the nation. As the nation’s largest states recover, Utah cannot be expected to keep pace with them in the growth of job numbers and other economic indicators. Therefore, is unrealistic to expect Utah to continue to top the nation’s economic rankings.

But Utah’s slight dip in one ranking cannot mask the fact that our state is doing remarkably well overall. 24/7 Wall Street, for example, ranks Utah as one of the top 10 states with the fastest-growing economies. Utah’s GDP is growing at a robust 3.4 %, more than twice the national average, and our state’s unemployment is far below the national rate.

Seen in that light, CNBC’s rankings indicate the nation’s economic recovery is picking up steam, rather than we in Utah our losing ours. Our fifth-place ranking attests to Utah’s continued ability to more than hold its own with the nation’s leading economies, even as they continue to improve.

Moreover, Utah is poised for continued growth and lasting economic success because our fundamentals – a productive and well-educated workforce, low taxes and operating costs, a sensible regulatory environment and a AAA bond rating, to name a few. More than mere numbers, those fundamentals add up to Utah’s staying power.

In other words, Utah’s economic success is not slipping or going away. Ratings — like pre-season football and basketball polls — are nice, but performance is what really counts. On that score, Utah is doing very well.