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A regional public media collaboration serving the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Housing Costs Outpace Wage Growth In Mountain West Urban Areas

Photo of downtown Salt Lake City.
Construction, tech and healthcare are among the fastest growing sectors in the Mountain West, where job growth is centered in cities like Boise and Salt Lake.

The United States added more than 200,000 jobs last month, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While wages and jobs are growing in the Mountain West, they aren’t outpacing the skyrocketing cost of housing. 

“Over the past year or so, we’ve seen average wages grow by about 4% here in Utah,” said Juliette Tennert, chief economist at the Ken C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. “Now, the median housing price has grown by over 8%.”

However, the gap between housing costs and wage growth should begin to shrink in the near future, according to Tennert. Construction, tech and healthcare are among the region’s fastest growing sectors. Workers can expect to pull in between $800 to more than $1,000 a week in average wages. 

But most of these new jobs are concentrated in the Mountain West’s urban areas, such as Boise, Denver and the Wasatch Front. According to Tennert, the rural West is a different story. 

“We’re not really seeing that pace of growth,” she said. “In fact, in some areas we’re seeing declines.”

Tennert said some rural counties have fewer jobs now than they did prior to the Great Recession, which began in 2007. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Ce

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
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