The Economic Changes of Silicon Slopes Since 2010

By Lyndsey Stram, Senior Economist

In recent years, Utah’s Silicon Slopes has shown major growth and change. Silicon Slopes is the nickname for parts of Utah County where technology employment is centered. This area includes the cities of Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Hills, Highland, Lehi, and Pleasant Grove. Silicon Slopes has seen a higher degree of employment growth relative to its population, placing it in the spotlight as an emerging employment center. This is a shift away from the Provo/Orem area, which had previously been the only major employment center in Utah County.

Figure 1: Silicon Slopes Area Population, 2010-2019

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, ACS

When analyzing growth by cities in Silicon Slopes, Lehi has the highest number of residents and also saw the most population growth since 2010, adding 52% in just 10 years. All cities evaluated grew between 16% and 52%.

Lehi is considered the hub city of Silicon Slopes. Based on 2018 data, workers employed in Lehi mostly commuted in from Orem, Provo, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Pleasant Grove, American Fork, Sandy, Draper, and South Jordan. Nearly 30,000 people commute into Lehi for work while about 25,000 residents commute out. Because more workers commute in than out, there is positive net job inflow, which is evidence of Lehi’s growing prominence as an employment center in the area.

Figure 2: Silicon Slopes Area Employment, 2007-2019

Source: Utah Department of Workforce Services

Silicon Slopes’ growth is also reflected in the nonfarm employment numbers. In just 12 years, Silicon Slopes nonfarm employment has more than doubled. Also, note in Figure 2 the minor dip in employment during the Great Recession of 2008-2010. The employment in the area is partially due to population growth and also due to residents of other cities commuting into the area for work.

Figure 3: Industry Employment Share, 2007

Source: Utah Department of Workforce Services

Figure 4: Industry Employment Share, 2019

Source: Utah Department of Workforce Services

Between 2007 and 2019, the distribution of employment between industries changed dramatically in the Silicon Slopes area. The information sector (which includes software publishing) was small in 2007 with 3% of employment. Since then it has more than tripled and currently makes up 10% of the local employment. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint ‘tech’ jobs, as they don’t fall within any particular industry classification, information is where many of these companies could be categorized. Professional and business services, which are in part another type of ‘tech’ sector, also nearly doubled its employment share. The government sector, which covers public schools, also nearly doubled, responding to the area’s large population growth.

To summarize, the Silicon Slopes area has undergone significant changes in the past 10 years. This includes growth in employment and population, expansion of high-wage jobs and changes in industry specialization. The development of the tech industry has further strengthened the diversity of the Utah economy, which already stands among one of the most diverse in the United States.