New Utah Foundation Misery Index compares state to neighbors and U.S.

December 16, 2023 (Utah Policy)

Today, the Utah Foundation released The 2022 Utah Misery Index: A Glimpse into the Fiscal Measures of Happiness. The report uses an index of financial “misery” to compare Utah to neighboring states, the U.S., and the world.
Among the findings of the study:

  • The U.S. misery index spiked during the first pandemic year and again in 2022, but those are nowhere near previous peaks.
  • When comparing levels of misery as determined by Hanke’s Misery Index, Utah has consistently done better than the U.S. average.
  • Utah fell near the U.S. average in 2022. Nonetheless, Utah seems positioned to remain a strong economic beacon in the nation and continue with a relatively low misery index.
  • Utah consistently fares better on the misery index than its neighboring states.
  • In 2021, Utah was second only to Wyoming in the Mountain States due to that state’s rebounding growth. Idaho and Montana were very close behind.
  • Utah was one of nine states with better than zero index scores in 2021. This was due in large part to a spike in the Beehive State’s gross domestic product growth.
  • The preliminary 2022 calculations look very different from 2021, with a jump in misery for all states. While the unemployment rate is low, the other misery index factors are concerning: inflation is high, the bank-lending rate has increased, and gross domestic product growth has slowed.

Utah Foundation President Shawn Teigen notes that the topic of financial “misery” is certainly a downer during this holiday season. “However, the flip side of misery is happiness,” Teigen said. “Our survey work of Utahns’ quality of life suggests that increasing financial happiness would go a long way toward improving our overall quality of life during the holidays and beyond.”

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Referenced Reports