Utah County — home of Silicon Slopes — ranks No. 2 among nation’s large counties for job growth, No. 6 for wage increases

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) North frontage road and I-15 at the Thanksgiving Point exit in Lehi, one of the busiest exchanges in the state. Utah Department of Transportation’s (UDOT) I-15 Tech Corridor project in Lehi will widen I-15 with two new lanes in each direction from Lehi Main Street to S.R. 92. It will also alleviate east-west congestion in this busy area by building a bridge at Triumph Boulevard, adding a one-way frontage road system from 2100 North to S.R. 92 and reconstructing those two interchanges. In addition, the project will construct 17 bridges and include several bike and pedestrian improvements.

Utah County ranks No. 2 in the nation for job growth — with an increase of more than three times the national rate, new federal data show. It also ranked No. 6 for wage increases.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the job growth in Utah County — home of the booming Silicon Slopes high-tech area — was 6 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, compared with a national average of 1.6 percent.

Among the nation’s 349 largest counties, only Midland County, Texas — in oil country — had a larger increase, at 12.6 percent.

Some other top counties in the nation included Boone County, Ky. (near Cincinnati), up 5.9 percent; Montgomery County, Texas (north of Houston), 5.6 percent; and Calcasieu Parish, La. (around Lake Charles), 5.0 percent.

At the bottom of rankings for large counties was Kanahwa, W. Va. (surrounding Charleston), where employment dropped by 1.4 percent during the year.

The agency reported that 314 of the nation’s 349 largest counties saw employment increases during the year. The data come from the quarterly census of employment and wages.

It also reported that Utah County ranked No. 6 in the nation for the percentage increase in average weekly wages, up 9.7 percent over the yearlong period to $930 a week ($48,360 a year). Again, the Silicon Slopes area there attracts higher-paying, high-tech jobs.

The U.S. average weekly wage increase was 3.7 percent over the year to $1,152 (or $59,904 annually).

The large counties that finished higher in the wage growth by percentage rankings were: Peoria, Ill., up 23.8 percent; Suffolk, Mass., 12.1 percent; Clayton, Ga., 11.3 percent; King, Wash., 10.1 percent; and San Francisco, 10.0 percent.

At the bottom was Forsyth County, N.C. (around Winston-Salem), where average wages dropped by 4.8 percent.

The release also contained data about Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties in Utah.

In Salt Lake County, the job growth rate was 2.5 percent, ranking No. 62 among the largest 349 counties nationally. The average weekly wage was $1,081 ($56,212 annually), up 4.1 percent. That wage growth ranked No. 78 nationally.

Davis County saw job growth of 2.0 percent, ranking No. 103 nationally. Its average weekly wage grew by 4.7 percent (No. 46 nationally) to $867 (or $45,084 annually).

Weber County’s job growth was 3.5 percent, just making the top 25 nationally. The average weekly wage there grew by 3.1 percent (No. 160 nationally) to $808 (or $42,016 annually).