Voices for Utah Children is a state-wide program with a lot of Utah County coverage. The organization works to support Utah children, improving healthcare, school readiness, safety, economic stability, and working toward a more diverse and accepting state. Through raising awareness, influencing policy, and generating community support, they provide advocacy and make a difference in the lives of thousands of children.
In early July of 2018, Voices for Utah Children rolled out its annual Working Families Benchmark report. This study evaluates how the Utah economy is experienced by median- and lower-income families by benchmarking Utah against a comparable state. This year’s report compared Utah to Idaho—an interesting comparison because of the state’s geographic proximity and cultural similarities.
This year’s findings report that Utah enjoys a higher standard of living than Idaho; residents experience higher hourly wages, higher household incomes, lower poverty rates, and higher levels of educational attainment. Utah has risen in state rankings in recent years after decades of being considered a low-wage state; according to Matthew Weinstein, a member of Voices for Utah Children, ”We look terrific.” The largest finding in this year’s report is that higher educational achievement correlates with higher income.
Utah has experienced momentous growth over the past decade. A 2016 report ranked Utah sixth in the country for overall child wellbeing; only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Iowa had higher aggregate scores. The state sees consistent decreases in the number of children living in poverty, and parents are continuing to find and maintain secure employment.
However, the state still has work to do in the coming years. The Voices for Utah Children Benchmark report found the state is behind when it comes to the percentage of children with health insurance, per pupil spending, and the gender wage gap. While the state is currently classified as “middle-wage,” it may be in the position, like Colorado and Minnesota before them, to become a high-wage state. If anything, the past decade of growth shows our state’s potential for success.