By PAUL FOY
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) â¿¿ Utah is on track to add 100,000 jobs within three years, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday, reporting on a promise he made in early 2012.
Herbert stopped at Exelis Aerostructures, which makes carbon-fiber parts for aircraft, to promote Utah's economy, which ranks 34th among the states in output.
Herbert often repeats Utah's top rankings by business magazines. Forbes magazine recently declared Utah the best state for business for a third year in a row, a fact Herbert cited Thursday. He doesn't, however, mention Utah's less stellar rankings â¿¿ wage rates are unexceptional, Utah spends less than almost all other states on public education, and four other states have lower unemployment rates.Still, things are looking up. Exelis has been adding jobs at a rate of about 100 a year, mostly manufacturing lightweight composite parts for commercial and military aircraft, said Mike Blair, vice president and general manager in Utah for the McLean, Va.-based contractor. Exelis has 475 employees in Utah and does business with more than 350 that together employ 8,000 people, officials said. Herbert said he challenged business and industry leaders to create 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days and he is more than pleased with the progress. "I hope people are paying attention. The economy can recover. It is recovering," said Herbert, who noted Utah's unemployment rate has fallen to 4.6 percent from 8.3 percent since he took office in 2009, and the state economy was growing at a rate of 4 percent a year. He said political skeptics doubted the goal could be reached â¿¿ and he expects to exceed it. By many measures, Utah is performing well, especially among technology companies. Utah promotes itself as Silicon Slopes because of nine ski areas within an hour of Salt Lake City, and many of the companies praise Utah's outdoor life.