Survey: Quality of life in Utah is in decline
Jun 29, 2022, 6:21 PM | Updated: 7:30 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – Despite a booming economy, a new survey reveals that housing prices and inflation are taking a toll on the quality of life in Utah.
The Utah Foundation’s Community Quality of Life Index dropped to 64 this year out of a possible 100 points. Since the survey was first conducted in 2011 the index has hovered between 70 and 73 points.
“The big headline in terms of community quality of life is that our community quality of life is going down,” Shawn Teigen, director of research for the Utah Foundation said. He said the main reasons for the decline are inflationary: housing affordability and other increasing costs of living like food and utilities.
“It’s our cost of living that has drawn down this quality of life by a substantial margin,” Teigen said in an interview with KSL TV.
“Utah’s rapidly rising housing costs have made many Utahns feel like rents and ownership are no longer affordable,” the report states. “And inflation is causing angst among many Utahns.”
The survey, which was conducted last month, asks Utahns to rate their communities based on 20 factors.
“We saw a big nose dive and it’s kind of surprising to us,” Teigen said. “We figured that it would go down a little bit but it didn’t realize that it would go down this far.”
Besides the cost of housing and other living costs, the other main issues the survey said are dragging down quality of life are traffic, availability of recreational and social programs, quality of public schools, and the quality of air and water.
Over the previous decade, 18 of the 20 factors have seen a downward trend. The category about having family nearby did not change significantly while the category about good job opportunities experienced a positive trend.
“The availability of good jobs is the only factor on Utah Foundation’s Community Quality of Life Index that has trended upward during the past decade,” the report said.
The Utah Foundation said this survey sends a clear message to policy makers that affordable housing is a top concern that needs to be addressed. Those with a religious affiliation, those with more education, older residents, men, and those with higher incomes reported a better quality of life, the report said.
“Among the most striking findings in this study is the tight linkage between religious affiliation and a significantly higher community quality of life,” the researchers write. “In fact, those respondents who identified with a religion indicated a higher quality of life on 12 of 20 aspects of the community index.”
The researchers also note that having post-secondary education was also closely linked to respondents indicating a higher quality of life in 11 of the 20 factors.