The following Household Reports are conducted every other month, and comprise a sample of approximately
400 Utah residents from around the State. Participants are sampled based on address, correcting for
nonresponse, to produce a represenative sample of the State of Utah.
After a period of exceptionally high growth in spring and
summer 2021, growth expectations show signs of a slowdown
in August 2021. Households expect to spend 2% more in the
next three months than this time in 2019, but this is down from
6% in June 2021. The slower spending growth suggests some
concern and increased uncertainty about economic growth in
Slower spending is concentrated in e-commerce, electronics, and food at home—three
categories that have experienced higher than average expected spending over the last six
months. Consumers have experienced higher prices for food, utilities, and entertainment in
August relative to June, with housing prices remaining high. For this month, we provide a
spotlight on the expected employee-initiated job changes (e.g. “Quits”), highlighting general
job satisfaction. A surprisingly large 1 in 5 Utah consumers think it is somewhat likely that they
quit their current job within the next three months. Of those that consider quitting feasible,
20% say their current pay is too low and over 10% indicate other options provide better remote
work, better pay, better benefits, and better flexibility. Finally, respondents say the risk of
catching COVID-19 dramatically increased since June, potentially providing an explanation for
slowing spending and increased uncertainty.
In the following figures, we report spending, income, and savings expectations for the next three
months relative to this time in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
Expected spending (shown below) is much lower in August compared to June, which could result in a pull back in the
economic growth Utah has been experiencing over the spring and summer.
Relative to April, income expectations (shown below) are lower for everyone, except the
respondents themselves—which remain stable.
Savings (shown below) are expected to decrease for the
average American and Utahn, but are expected stay steady or slightly
increase for households themselves.
We asked households how much they spent in 2019 in different spending categories and their expected
spending in these categories for 2021. We report expected spending in 2021
(relative to spending in 2019) for some of these categories in the below figures.
The blue line at 100 indicates the same amount of spending as in 2019, and a value of 110 would
indicate 10% more spending than in 2019.
The above figure shows consumption decreases in transport out-of-state,
accommodation out-of-state, entertainment, and special events—all
items that have been responsive to COVID-19 cases in the past and
likely being damped by the recent surge in cases.
The above figure shows spending categories of e-commerce, electronics, and food home
experienced decreases in expected spending in August relative to
June. This is important, since these categories all exhibited higher
spending levels during the pandemic.
We asked households how likely it was that they would quit their job
in the next three months. We grouped their answers into not likely
(less than 5% chance), somewhat likely (5%-50%) and likely (50% or
more). While most respondents do not find it likely they will quit, a
large minority of 28% said a quit is at least somewhat likely. For
respondents who stated that they are “likely” to quit their current
employer, the top reason included “pay too low,” and “better
opportunities elsewhere” in terms of stability, flexibility, benefits,
remote work, as reported in the figure below. The elevated rates of employee
initiated job changes likely will continue to put upward pressure on
The business survey is a panel of a 1,000 firms sampled to be representative of the businesses in Utah based
on size, geography, and industry. This leads to the median firm being relatively small and includes
many self-employed people. The survey is administered monthly.
August 2021 showed a significant slowdown in the ongoing economic boom in Utah, compared to July 2021.
This decrease is likely due to increased uncertainty around the Delta variant of COVID-19 and related
uncertainty in consumer demand. Inflation risk decreased from July—fewer businesses said they raised
prices in August and average price changes declined. One exception to this broad pattern is the
construction industry, for which inflation increased. Our August 2021 spotlight analyzes potential
“skill gaps” in the labor force. Businesses report candidates have about 80% of the basic and
social skills they are looking for. These skill gaps have implications for job creation and wages: if
businesses could find employees with these skills they would almost double the pace of hiring and pay
these employees roughly 15% more. We also provide a spotlight on the ongoing changes in work from home,
finding a potential increase in productivity due to work from home and a fluid work situation as
businesses respond to new COVID-19 cases.
Current Business Climate
We quantify the general business climate by asking respondents to compare their current revenue and their
revenue expectations over the next three months to their revenues in the same month in 2019, to account
for the change since pre-pandemic “normal.” This relative revenue comparison is also useful
since reported values will take seasonality into account: for example, the holiday shopping season in
December. Current and expected revenues define four business cycle regions; boom, downturn, recession, and
Specifically, when businesses have current and expected revenues above those of the same month in 2019, we
designate them as in a boom. Similarly, when businesses have current and expected revenues below those of
the same month in 2019, we designate them as in recession. In contrast, firms are classified as being in a
downturn if current revenues are higher than 2019 levels, but expected revenues over the next 3 months are
lower than 2019 levels. Similarly, firms reporting that their current revenues are below 2019 levels but
are expecting revenues in the next 3 months to be above 2019 levels are classified as being in recovery
The first Figure shows that Utah remains in the boom territory in
August, though moving closer to ’stationary‘ (the center of the
figure) relative to the past three months. Current revenues remain higher than this time in 2019 and
expectations are for revenues to remain above their 2019 levels
over the next three months. This figure shows, however, that
revenues are only 2-3% higher than 2019 levels, down from
roughly 8% in July. Similarly, expected revenues are 2-3% higher
than 2019 levels, down from roughly 8% in July.
(Note: to minimize the effect of outliers, this figure presents median values.)
The second figure shows continued economic growth across industries.
Finance is booming with revenues 10% higher now relative to
2019 and expected revenue growth above 10%. In August, fewer
industries are above the 45 degree line (dashed black line) than
in July, suggesting that fewer industries expect stronger revenue
growth over the next three months than their current revenues.
Businesses are expecting to create more jobs in the next three
months, and this job growth is higher than in July, as seen in
this figure. Despite concerns over demand and uncertainty of
revenues due to COVID, the labor market looks to remain tight as
businesses continue to look for employees.
Pricing and inflation
Businesses report waning inflation concerns in August. To track
the risk of inflation for the Utah economy, we ask businesses
whether they changed their average prices last month and, if so,
by how much. In this setting, it is useful to keep in mind that
most businesses change their prices infrequently and, therefore,
also tend to set their prices even higher if they expect high
future growth and/or inflation. This figure shows both the
number of businesses that reported price changes, as well as the
median reported price change (in percent).
We find that roughly 15% of firms report changing a price last
month, which is down from July. Businesses report raising prices
by an average of 7% in August, down slightly from roughly 10%
Employers are still seeking qualified candidates. In August, we
asked businesses about a series of basic and social skills that they
are looking for and whether they are finding employees with
these skills. The basic skills we asked businesses about include:
- speaking (talking to others to convey information effectively)
- reading comprehension (understanding written sentences and paragraphs)
- basic math (using math to complete work tasks)
- active listening (giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand
points being made)
- active learning (understanding the implications of new information for both current and future
- critical thinking (using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative
- learning strategies (selecting and using training methods when learning new things)
- monitoring (assessing performance of yourself and other individuals and taking corrective action)
- ability to provide a negative recreational drug test.
The social skills include:
- coordination (adjusting actions in relation to others' action)
- instructing (teaching others how to do something)
- negotiation (bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences)
- persuasion (persuading others to change their minds or behavior)
- service orientation (actively looking for ways to help people)
- social perceptiveness (being aware of others’ reactions and why they react as they do)
Businesses respond that job candidates have about 80% of the
basic skills they are looking for, with a few exceptions. They
report no problems finding candidates with a negative drug
test. They also find candidates with slightly better reading
comprehension and speaking. Businesses also report job candidates have about
80% the social skills they are looking for.
This “skill gap” between employer needs and employee
abilities has implications for job-creation and wages.
Businesses report they would be willing to hire 10% more
employees, relative to their current workforce, if they found
candidates that had 100% of the skills they are looking for.
Compared to the 12% expected hiring increased reported in the
figure above, this means that the pace of hiring would almost
double if employers could find suitably qualified candidates!
They also report that they would be willing to pay over 15%
more for candidates with all of the basic skills they are looking
for and 13% more for candidates with all of social skills they
are looking for, as reported in the figure below.
Work From Home
Businesses shifted largely to work-from-home arrangements as
COVID-19 risks increased. We asked businesses what percentage of
their workforce is working from home and how productivity has
changed because of work-from-home arrangements. We report these
in the figure below. In December 2020, businesses reported that 60% of
their workforce was working from home. This percentage dropped in
January and again in June to roughly 30%. In August, the percentage
increased slightly to roughly 35%. This increase likely is in response to
increasing case counts and added uncertainty for the fall. In
December 2020, businesses reported no change in productivity due
to work-from-home arrangements. Productivity began to increase,
peaking around 5% in June.
If you have participated in one of our surveys, thank you very much for your participation. Answers from you
directly inform state leaders and Utah about the economy.
If you have any questions about the survey, you can email email@example.com or
If you have been contacted by us, either by mail or email, please follow the link on these correspondance to
your survey and note your access code.
Thank you for your participation.