Today is the sixth annual National Manufacturing Day. The Salt Lake Chamber would like to take this opportunity to showcase Utah’s manufacturing and distribution industry, highlighting the impact one of our largest industries has on our economy and state.
Utah’s manufacturing and distribution industry employs over 190,000 Utahns, and the industry is growing. Over the last five years, employment has grown 11 percent in the manufacturing and distribution industry, with certain industries, such as freight trucking, medical equipment and supplies and motor vehicle and parts manufacturing by 20 percent or more. In 2017, four major companies announced expansions in Utah, including Amazon, Lifehouse, Biomerics and Packsize International.
With this growth comes the need for a skilled workforce, something the nation and Utah is in need of. Over the past five years, the manufacturing employment rate in Utah was 17 percent, nearly double the national rate. That’s thanks in part to over 90 percent of Utahns over the age of 25 having a high school diploma and nearly one-third having a bachelor’s degree.
In the Utah Manufacturers Association’s 2018 issue of Manufactured in Utah, UMA President Todd Bingham said there are still thousands of unfilled manufacturing positions. Leaders of Utah’s technical schools expressed this gap not as a lack of people to be hired, but a lack of people with the right training. They called for more marketing and recruitment tactics, showing current students and those already in the workforce what it is really like to work in manufacturing in order to fill program enrollments in Utah’s technical schools. They also noted technical programs low financial and time cost when compared to four-year degrees, noting that students graduate with less debt and are able to enter the workforce more quickly.
To fill this gap in training, businesses partner with technical and community colleges and for an employee training program called Custom Fit Training. The program is funded by the Utah State Legislature and the participating businesses allow employees to receive training from schools all over the state to stay competitive and earn higher wages as skilled workers. In 2016, Custom Fit trained over 15,000 Utahns working at over 1,600 companies. Utah’s manufacturing and distribution industry pays 38 percent more than the average pay in the state of Utah.
Even with relatively high manufacturing and distribution wages, Utah still has one of the lowest costs of operation when compared to manufacturing and distribution in similar western states. Costs of real estate and utilities are lower in Utah than Arizona, California, Oregon, and Colorado. Additionally, the low corporate income tax and sales tax exemption offered by the state of Utah keep the costs of production down, making Utah a destination state for new businesses as well as growing current businesses. In 2009, Utah was ranked ninth in the nation for its Total Tax Climate by the Tax Foundation, as Utah has eliminated 400 business regulations.
Utah’s manufacturing and distribution industry is thriving and will continue to do so with a highly-skilled, highly-trained workforce, economic benefits provided by the state, and low costs of operation. On this day, we thank and celebrate the over 190,000 hard-working men and women of Utah’s manufacturing and distribution industry.