Utahns'
Values and Priorities

In 2014, Envision Utah conducted a values study to understand Utahns’ priorities and attitudes, to identify the factors related to quality of life that matter most to residents, and to determine why those factors are important to Utahns. The study methodology is described in the previous section, and detailed findings for each of the 11 topic areas are described in their respective vision reports. The overall findings are set forth here.

Quality of Life and State-Level Priorities

Utahns enjoy a high quality of life—well above what others report nationally. Three in four like the directions their communities are headed and anticipate that things, including the economy, will get better in the future. This finding reflects a sharp improvement and recovery since quality of life was last measured by Envision Utah in 2007.

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Own Community

Many factors are considered important to the future of the state—no single issue dominates over the others. In fact, the research clearly shows that Utahns see many factors and issues as being interconnected and linked to their personal values. The importance of these issues to the future of the state is widely shared among Utahns and is similar regardless of age, income, or religion.

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Overall, Utahns believe the state is performing well on most of the issues. In particular, they believe that the state is performing very well on two topics: outdoor recreation and economic development/jobs. Conversely, Utahns feel that the state is underperforming in two areas: education and air quality.

Attitudes Toward Growth

Most Utahns believe that growth in the state brings many benefits and should be encouraged and fostered.

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Compared to prior years, more people are identifying new births as the primary source of the state’s population growth. However, the majority of residents (three quarters) continue to mistakenly believe that new growth is originating from outside of Utah, even though about 70% of our growth consists of our own children and grandchildren.

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Utahns are growing less sure of who can best deal with growth issues. In particular, Utahns are much less confident in their own abilities to deal with issues related to growth than they were 15 years ago. Unfortunately, this has not been replaced with an increased confidence in state or local government or private business. Instead, a growing number of Utahns don’t know whom to trust.

This growing number of Utahns who do not know whom to trust concerning growth issues may reflect a perception that Utah is not adequately planning and preparing for the future. Although 85% of Utahns believe it is extremely or very important to have a vision or long range plan for the state, as of 2014 more than half said Utah is only doing a fair or poor job in planning and preparing for growth.

Utahns’ Personal Values

Utahns treasure three characteristics of Utah. These characteristics appear in order of significance, along with explanations of how they connect to Utahns’ emotions and values.

  • Safe and Secure Environment: Utahns prize the good people who live in Utah. They enjoy having a family- and kid-friendly environment, as well as safe, friendly, and close-knit neighborhoods with low crime. This creates a good place to raise children and a better community, leading to a feeling of safety, as well as peace of mind and a sense of personal security.
  • Cost of Living/Economic Opportunity: The availability of good paying jobs coupled with a low cost of living generates more income to buy more and do more. Utahns feel more financially secure and can sufficiently provide for their families, ensuring they do not have to leave Utah to find economic opportunity. Having a low cost of living and a good economy reduces stress, enhances the overall quality of life, makes the state better for future generations, and provides a sense of financial security and peace of mind.
  • Scenic Beauty/Outdoor Recreation: Utah’s scenic beauty and outdoor recreation provide abundant opportunities for Utahns to enjoy outdoor activities with their friends and families. The opportunity to be active outdoors also promotes healthier living, personal enjoyment, and happiness.

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    Utahns are strongly concerned about two negative aspects of life in Utah. One negative characteristic is of particular concern to urban residents and the other is of particular concern to rural residents

    • Poor Air Quality (Urban Residents): Utahns—particularly urban residents—report poor air quality as the number one negative aspect about living in Utah. They feel that poor air quality is not healthy for them or their families and that it leads to illness, stress, and lack of security for future generations.
    • Overbearing Federal Government (Rural Residents): Rural residents feel that the federal government is overbearing, which harms the local economy and prevents their children from finding jobs in their communities. As a result, rural Utahns feel they have lost control over things that should be within their rights, and they have a strong sense that they have lost their personal freedom.

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      Additional Differences between Urban and Rural Residents

      For the most part rural residents share the same state-level priorities as urban residents. There are, however, a few areas where views diverge between the two groups:

      • Rural residents place a lower priority on air quality, transportation, and preparation for disasters than urban residents. Agriculture is more important for rural residents. Moreover, rural residents are more likely to feel that the state is not doing a good job on economic development and jobs.
      • Residents in semi-rural areas (Cache, Morgan, Summit, Tooele, Wasatch, and Washington Counties) care slightly less about education than other Utahns and put more priority on planning how their cities and towns grow. Semi-rural residents also put a slightly higher priority and performance rating on healthcare, natural lands, and outdoor recreation.

      As Utah grows, rural residents want better educational opportunities, health-care that is close to home, and improved or expanded water infrastructure.

      Complete Values Study

      The full report of the 2014 Values Study Envision Utah performed in conjunction with Heart+Mind Strategies is available for download.

      Click here to download the full report.