Economics and Elections

LEHIGH, Utah — There isn’t an election where the economy isn’t one of the biggest issues. FOX 13 News gathered a panel of experts on topics such as historically low unemployment and growing wages in Thanksgiving Point, Utah’s Silicon Slopes.

Far-flung businesses face challenges such as a 2.8% unemployment rate, making it difficult to find people.

„In my 18 years working in economic development in the state of Utah, this is the first time I know that the things people talk about at work are the same things people talk about at home,” Derek said. Miller, Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO „Can I pay my rent? Can I go to the grocery store because food costs so much? What am I going to do with childcare, especially if I’m a dual-income family?”

Other challenges facing Utah and the U.S. include inflation and housing.

“Housing is a hot topic right now, you know, mainly because interest rates and interest rates have been so high, but prices haven’t come down. You know, we’re seeing prices continue to rise,” said Maralee Jensen with Axia Home Loans.

Economist Robert Spendlove added: “I spoke to someone who had a mortgage rate of 1.75 per cent. So going from two or three percent to seven percent is a big change in a quick period of time. Now if you look back over a long period of time, historically, back to the 1960s, we’ve been at these levels before, but not for long.

Shawn Teigen, president of the Utah Foundation, added: „Part of the problem is when rates are at that level, you can end up in a bidding war on a house. Because, yeah, my mortgage isn’t going to be paid. So much, it’s not that big of a deal, but all of a sudden prices are going up again. If you come in and don’t have a home, if you don’t already have some equity, it’s very difficult to get into homeownership.”

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„Today, home ownership is an unattainable dream for many people my age,” said Salt Lake City Councilwoman Eva Lopez Chavez. „I represent Gen Z — the youngest city council member ever elected, and I think it’s something we need to consider. I think we’re seeing a demand for housing. District 4 is 84% ​​renters. We’re seeing less and less housing opportunities.”

„If you look back over the last 30 or so years, Utah has seen some of the highest valuations in the country, it’s next to Colorado and Montana. Salt Lake City, Denver and Austin, but really we’re on top of these home price increases,” Teigen said.

As we look at fewer housing opportunities, we see people struggling to afford both housing and childcare.

„Sometimes parents debate the fact that they have to pay something, whether it’s rent, car payments or childcare, but if parents focus on providing quality childcare, we can find innovative ways to make childcare affordable,” said Louise Sue Martin, administrator of Adventure Time Preschool.

He responded to a question about the waiting list: „Yes. A lot of people sign on, but sometimes we don’t have staff and people. Sometimes the cycle is very slow because sometimes the pay is very low, so they can work somewhere else.”

Chavez said: „For our families to succeed, to see our cities, for Utah to succeed. In the last four years we’ve seen more and more families leave our city and leave our city because they feel unsafe, they feel. It’s unaffordable, and the public school system is up for it. We saw four schools in Salt Lake City close in the last year because they felt unsupported and we see rebuilding as a call to fear not as our city.

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Jensen added: “As a working mother this touches my heart. As you know, my husband and I both worked while raising our children, so childcare was a big deal. I remember those hard days when the kids weren’t happy and you were trying to juggle daycare and stuff.”

Referring to Chavez, Jensen continued: „I like that you try to be thoughtful and push forward enough to come into the house and be sympathetic or empathetic enough to understand the scale and mix it creates in the economy and the workforce.”

Chavez responded: „When we talk about daycares, we’re talking about families. And to create the elements that help build better families, whether it’s a city, a suburb, a village — wherever they choose, give them economic opportunities. But we What we are really talking about is human capital.

Luis said to Chavez: „I think what you just said is some progress like the whole goal. That’s why I think it’s so important to make sure we develop these kids, the kids’ future skills, because they’re the foundation.”

Some of the panelists felt that while we focus on the challenges, we should also focus on the positives.

„We always have to look at how we remove roadblocks,” Miller said. „But we’ve had Utah’s most prosperous decade, and we’re still on solid footing, and we’re still one of the fastest-growing states in the country and still have one of the lowest unemployment rates. So, let’s not get too worked up.”

Teigen added: „Things are going really well. We’re grumpy, though. I hate being one of those states that didn’t have a great economy for 10 years, like Robert was talking about. I hate being one of those states that was struggling before, and now they’re really struggling because they’re seeing the same prices, Same price increase at grocery store and services elsewhere.

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„The tough thing right now is commodities. Inflation has come down again, at least prices haven’t gone up, food and energy, but now inflation is moving towards services,” Spendlove said. „So services inflation is higher than headline inflation. Housing inflation is still higher. So what we’re seeing is a shift of sorts. It started as goods with the breakdown of the supply chain. Now it’s moving to services…everything but goods, whether it’s being a CPA or a lawyer. Anyway, go to the barber shop, it’s a lot more expensive than it used to be.”

„But some of them, like Walmart and Target, are talking about lowering prices. So when we go to the grocery store and buy a receipt, we’re like, 'Oh, is this it? Really low?'” Teigen said.

Spendlove added: „If you look at the economy, the economy is fine. Unemployment is low, there are plenty of jobs. We’re seeing wage rises. But people are really struggling with the impact of inflation. And they’re upset because they’re hearing politicians say inflation’s down, inflation’s back to normal – it’s Not on inflation – prices have gone up 20 per cent in the last four years so people are shifting to higher prices in line with this new reality and we’re referring to that?”

Tiegen responded: „For the first time — is this correct? — consumer confidence in Utah is lower than the nation at large, and that scares me. I don’t understand it.”

Miller quipped: „There’s not necessarily a lot of truth in it; it’s a feeling.”

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