In the report, Utah was ranked 13th nationally in foreclosure filings in September, with one in every 516 households receiving such a filing, compared with one in every 475 nationally.
This sheds a different light on The Economist’s information that:
In August [Utah’s] foreclosure rate was lower than the national average.
How much does “lower than the national average” really mean?
After all, while the September figures confirm that continued status, a rank of thirteenth nationwide isn’t all that great. Look at RealtyTrac’s September data yourself for state-by-state comparisons.
Vermont, to take a stellar example, had 6 properties with foreclosure filings in the month, or one in every 51,593 households. That is great. And Utah’s neighbor Wyoming, which as noted earlier had a slightly lower September unemployment rate than Utah, also had a lower foreclosure-filings rate: one in every 2,718 households, or 88 total.
This said, we don’t deny that Utah is looking better than much of the nation on a variety of fronts. Many states would love Utah’s job growth, as small as it is. But as important as the good news is, the bad news is equally so. Yes, Utah is still creating jobs, but the trend is down down down.
Here is Utah’s Standard-Examiner on October 15:
Job growth is grinding to a halt in Utah, weighed down by a prolonged slump in new home construction and uncertainty about the future of the national economy.
From October 2007 through September this year, the state added about 1,800 jobs for an annual growth rate of 0.1 percent, the Department of Workforce Services reported Tuesday.
September’s growth was the slowest in more than five years, and marked the 14th consecutive month of declining job growth in the state.
Ultimately, the story of Utah’s growing links to the national economy—which, as we noted above, The New York Times covered several months ago—is the more interesting and, as is clear from the local press, relevant one. That story looks to the future with far more insight than does The Economist, which, for all of its pretense to prediction, is essentially backward-oriented on this one.
So, we end on one more bulletin from the local press. The Salt Lake Tribune on September 22 wrote:
Economic hard times have left lawmakers with a $272.4 million hole to plug in the state budget and tough decisions when they gather in special session later this week.
Budget officials from the governor’s office and the Legislature concluded Monday that Utah’s economy has faltered even more than expected, and they would need to carve even more than the $200 million shortfall that they had projected last week.
The story changes quickly. The Economist needs to keep up.