The single most important thing Utah's leaders can do to improve the state's quality of life is boost public education, residents say in a new report.
The Utah Foundation and Intermountain Healthcare have compiled what they plan as a biennial survey about Utah's quality of life. The first Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index stands at 77.2 out of a possible 100, according to 671 adults surveyed this year.
Community leaders should focus on improving five factors: the availability of good jobs, public education, living costs, affordable housing and acceptance of differences among Utahns as the state grows more diverse, the Utah Foundation concluded. These ranked high in importance but below average in quality.
The report is available at http://www.utahfoundation.org/reports/?p=744.
Respondents ranked public schools at 90.7 for importance but 73.5 for quality.
Utah spend less per pupil than all other states, the report said, and a previous Foundation analysis found that students should be scoring higher on standardized tests, based on the state's demographics.
Utahns are happy with the state's cultural events, opportunities for recreation and their physical surroundings, such as parks, streets and nature.
The largest gap between the quality and importance is in Utah's infrastructure and vital services, such as being protected from crime, traffic and public transportation, public schools and higher education, air and water quality and health care.
Of the 20 items ranked by survey respondents, safety and security was considered the most important feature for quality of life in Utah. With a score of 100 signifying the most important, it was rated 92.7.
But the quality of Utah's fight against crime ranked 80, putting it in 10th place among 20 quality rankings.
While Utah's overall crime rates are low compared to the nation, it has relatively high rates of property crime, rape, and larceny-theft, the report said.
Other rankings in the category:
• Higher education: Importance, 86.7; quality, 83.5.
• Air and water quality: Importance, 89.4; quality 75.6.
• Quality heath care: Importance, 89; 82.2.
• Public Transportation: Importance, 72.1; quality, 66.9.
• Traffic conditions: Importance, 78.4; quality, 66.5.
The lowest rated factor for quality was good jobs. The report notes Utah's economy has fared better than many other states in recovering from the 2007 recession. But in 2009, the recession hit Utah "in earnest," as Utah's job losses dipped below the national average.
Survey respondents were also critical of Utah's cost of living and the affordability of housing.
Read the report
O The full report on the Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index is available at http://www.utahfoundation.org/reports/?p=744.