Utah’s cities on the rise

by Ryan Streeter on February 16, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Forbes just released its latest list of the 20 fastest-growing cities in America, and with almost boring regularity, Austin sits in first place followed at various points on the list by the other Texas metros. Raleigh and Charlotte also make appearances, as one would expect.

However, the list also includes a trend that hasn’t really hit the popular press but which those of us who keep an eye on these things have noticed the past year or two: Utah’s ascendency. Three Utah cities made the top 20 list. Utah itself has one of the highest private sector job growth rates in the nation, too. There are reasons for this:

“Utah’s economy has really become much more diverse than a classic western economy focused on extractive natural resources, federal defense—the things we used to be very dependent on,” says Pam Perlich, a senior research economist at the University of Utah who specializes in regional economics and demographics. She points to growth in construction, residential and commercial real estate, and a burgeoning energy sector as lifting the region. Tourism, manufacturing, professional and business services, and information are also help driving the region’s growth. A new light rail system has also been a factor, luring both housing and jobs along its corridor.