One of every 5 jobs in Utah is supported by international trade, study says

(Al Hartmann | Tribune File Photo) Rio Tinto's general manager of construction Michael Piercey stands in the foreground of a former rail dump that was rehabilitated in the 1990s on June 22, 2015. The native vegetation has taken hold at the bottom of the tailings mountain. Utah's exports of nonferrous metals, like copper, make it one of the biggest exporters of that commodity in the United States.

Here’s a reason to pay attention as President Donald Trump wages trade and tariff wars: A new study says international trade supports 1 of every 5 jobs in Utah — 389,000 of them.

The study by the Business Roundable, an association of chief executive officers of top U.S. firms, says trade with Canada and Mexico alone support more than 120,000 jobs in Utah. The state exported $2.7 billion in goods and services to those two countries in 2017.

The group said that highlights “the need to preserve and strengthen the North American trading relationship by passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this year.”

It notes that exports from Utah to Canada and Mexico have increased by 378 percent since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994.

The study found that trade-supported jobs in Utah increased by 86 percent from 1994 (when NAFTA was implemented) to 2017 — nearly three times faster than total employment.

The report says that worldwide, Utah exported $11.6 billion in goods and $6.8 billion in services in 2017 to 196 countries.

The top buyers of Utah goods and services abroad were the United Kingdom, $2.3 billion in goods and $617 million in services; Hong Kong, $1.6 billion in goods and $129 million in services; Canada, $1.2 billion in goods and $510 million in services; China, $731 million in goods and $404 million in services; and Mexico, $673 million in goods and $281 million in services.

The study says Utah’s exports have grown at a rate of 6.1% a year since 2007, while the average state gross domestic product grew at 3.7% during that time.

It also says that Utah ranks among the top 15 state exporters in 14 industries. That includes ranking third in nonferrous metal products, third in sheep, goats and fine animal fur and sixth in miscellaneous foods.

“With more than 95 percent of the world population and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside the United States, future economic growth and jobs for Utah and America increasingly depend on expanding U.S. trade,” the study says.