Employers can move Utah’s economy forward
Sarah Ryther Francom
February 1, 2011
One of Utah’s many strengths has long been is its youthful workforce. Utah, in fact, has the nation’s youngest population; the state’s median age is 28.5, the nation’s is 36.8.
In our annual Forty Under 40 recognition feature, we celebrate 40 of the state’s rising entrepreneurs, business execs and community builders. These 40 individuals are already making a difference in Utah and are quickly on their way to becoming tomorrow’s major players. We applaud their accomplishments. Read their stories beginning on page 42.
While it’s encouraging to see so many young Utahns making a difference in our business community, it is also a time to reflect upon how the Great Recession has impacted another side of Utah’s youth, a group often referred to as the Recession Generation or the Lost Generation. While there’s no doubt that today’s economy has impacted everyone in one way or another, it’s been argued that the individuals who will be most burdened by today’s economy are those in their young- to mid-20s. Though many in this age group are college educated, hard working and motivated, they haven’t been able to obtain the real work experience needed to start and build a long-term career. By the time they reach their early 30s, many will have glaring holes in their resumes and may even be overshadowed by younger, fresh-out-of-college individuals.
Utah’s unemployment rate has now reached 7.5 percent—the highest rate since 1982, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Peri Kinder, a frequent Utah Business contributor, describes the state’s increasing unemployment number from the perspective of the unemployed in “Help Not Wanted.” This feature depicts the hard truths about how Utah’s unemployed have been affected; many have been out of work for months and are struggling every day to find menial work. Read about their challenges on page 38.
It’s clear that today’s economic hardships will have a lasting impact on Utah’s workforce. Though the economy hasn’t fully recovered, and though there are many questions related to regulation, health care costs, etc., Utah’s employers have an opportunity and a responsibility to help the state’s unemployed land on their feet. As Rick Beard, president and CEO of Bank of American Fork, said during our Banking Industry Outlook (found on page 71), “If every business in Utah would hire just one person, we’d have a significant drop in the jobless rate in Utah. But it takes a little bit of an act of faith.”
The potential leaders of tomorrow are struggling to find a place in today’s economy. Employers should do all they can to ensure opportunity keeps knocking for this potentially forgotten workforce. If you’re not in a position to add employees, consider offering internships, part-time work, mentorship programs and other on-the-job opportunities. By opening your doors to the unemployed, you’ll not only help today’s workforce gain valuable experience, you’ll play a vital role in moving Utah’s economy forward.
From the Editor
Sarah Ryther Francom