Remember back in Econ 101 when we learned what a GDP is? Refresher: It’s the market value of all the goods and services produced in a certain geographic area. Places with a large GDP will generally have a high standard of living. Politicians and economists want their city, county, state and/or country to have a great GDP, and Utah now has that golden ray of sun shining through the clouds at us right now. Forbes magazine has just rated us the number one state with the biggest growth in our gross domestic products. But really, what does that mean?
Utah’s economy is HOT. It has been for several years. Our GDP has grown from $123.47 billion in 2010 to $168.62 billion in 2020 (despite COVID). It grew 82% from 2000 to 2020 and the pandemic barely seems to have made a major difference in our state’s production machinery, having come back from the pandemic faster than any other state. We have a diversified economy that’s strong in technology, oil, gas, salt and coal mining, tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and finance.
Sadly though, the drought we’re suffering may tilt some of the figures into negative columns in the next few years and slow our GDP. For example, farmers can’t get water to grow hay, ranchers are planning to sell off stock because hay is too expensive and beef prices will be skyrocketing. Snow totals are down and expected to get worse which will affect tourism at our resorts. This despite how well we are known since we hosted the world in the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The next nine states with the highest GDP are Washington, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, California, Texas, Georgia and Florida. The western states are all experiencing extreme weather conditions which include heat and drought as well as fires. GDP can turn sour if we buy less, government cuts back on spending, we export less and business investment falls. Utah exports a wide variety of goods, like microchips, medical equipment, aircraft parts, and auto safety products. But if you want to win the weekly trivia night at your local pub, answer this question: What is our largest mineral export? (fade in Jeopardy music). GOLD. Utah and Nevada are the two states neck and neck with gold production.
If you’re a stats geek or just interested in following the health of our economy, watch the periodic, but regular GDP reports. If the measurement in Utah begins to drop that means we’re going to see a decline in per capital income. The poor will suffer more than the rich, as in the adage ‘The poor will get poorer, the rich, richer’. When you hear reporters talk of businesses suffering in declining revenues and unemployment is rising, the talk will start up again to sus out if we are heading into a recession. What we do know right now is that food and gas prices are just going up, up and up which is making an impact on all our standards of living.