Home Ownership and Consumer Spending in Utah

In 2012, the rate of home ownership in Utah dropped to 71.1%, down from 76.2% in 2008 when the recession began, and the lowest rate since 1994.[67] Moreover, overall home sales along the Wasatch Front continue to be slow due to shaky consumer confidence. “Sales of single-family homes in Salt Lake County dropped by 9 % in the second quarter of 2014, compared with the same quarter last year,” which was the “third consecutive quarter of home-sale declines for Utah’s most populous county.”[68] These figures represent what the Salt Lake Board of Realtors call “affordability concerns,” as residential home prices have risen in many communities.[69] Utah’s Consumer Attitude Index has also been fickle, climbing steadily from October 2013 to April 2014, but then decreasing by 6.6 points from April to May 2014. Importantly, the percentage of Utah residents in May 2014 who expected their household income to be lower six months later increased from 4 % to 8 %.[70]

THE IMPACT OF EDUCATION ON HOME OWNERSHIP AND CONSUMER SPENDING

Given the connection between educational attainment, personal wages, and household income, it stands to reason that individuals and families with higher levels of education are more likely to be confident in their income potential, and translate such confidence into home and consumer purchases. In fact, nationally the home ownership rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher is 75 %, compared to 65 % for those with a high school degree or some college.[71]

A study that used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to examine home ownership patterns from 1988 to 2008, found: “In 1988, college graduates owned homes at slightly lower rates than those with some college and those who completed high school but did not go on to college. In all years after 1988, however, those who completed college owned homes at higher rates than the other groups, with the size of the differences increasing through 1996.”[72]

Higher levels of education, together with the accompanying rises in income, also lead to increased consumer confidence and spending. The Alliance for Excellent Education reported that if Utah were to increase its high school graduation rate from 78% to 90%, the state would see an additional $31 million in annual consumer spending, $122 million in additional home sales, and $5.8 million in additional auto sales.[73]


[67] Beebe, P. (2014, February 14). Recession caused severe cut in Utah homeownership rate. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/56773788-79/utah- %-rates-homes.html.csp

[68] Semerad, T. (2014, July 30). Wasatch Front home prices rise, but sales continue to slump. Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/58241168-79/%- county-sales-lake.html.csp

[69] Ibid.

[70] Zions Bank. (2014, May 27). Consumer attitudes dip as confidence in Utah’s economic trajectory declines. Salt Lake City: KCSG. Retrieved from http://www.kcsg.com/view/full_story/25170441/article-Consumer-Attitudes-Dip-as- Confidence-in-Utah-s-Economic-Trajectory-Declines?instance=eeo_report1

[71] Cororaton, G. (2013, June 7). College education boosts potential for homeownership. Economist Outlook Blog. National Association of Realtors. Retrieved from http://economistsoutlook.blogs.realtor.org/2013/06/07/college-education-boosts-potentialfor-homeownership/

[72] Aughinbaugh, A. (2013, February 6). Patterns of homeownership, delinquency, and foreclosure among youngest baby boomers. Beyond the Numbers, 2(2). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/patterns- of-homeownership.htm

[73] Alliance for Excellent Education. (2014).