On the EDge: St. George’s embarrassing wage problem

OPINION – I thought things were going really well in St. George.

We were told how the housing market had taken an upturn, employment figures remain strong, how the state is among the best-managed in the country.

Then a dose of reality set in with the results of a Pew Research Center study that reveals that, well, things aren’t so good.

According to the study, St. George ranks second-worst in the nation in weekly wages, behind only Ocean City, New Jersey, among the nation’s 381 metropolitan areas. It’s a formula based on wages, cost of living and other numbers crunched by financial wizards but dealt with on a daily basis by St. George residents.

Read more: St. George wages rank 2nd lowest in nation

Like most everybody else, I read through the comments on our Facebook page that related to our story.

Many were predictable, of course, with blame being laid at the feet of undocumented workers, retired Californians cashing out their expensive homes and moving to Southern Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There is no rationale I can come up with where the church would hold wages down. It is equally ludicrous to blame undocumented workers. As far as blaming the so-called “move-ins” from California or any other place is concerned, ask the local car dealerships, furniture stores, grocery stores, clothing outlets or any other business about that and I guarantee they are grateful for the influx of dollars from the Left Coast, East Coast or flyover country. It stimulates the economy and, theoretically, should help with better jobs, wages and benefits.

I was here during the economic explosion of the ‘90s, when double-digit growth was strong. It was the pot of gold, except some got greedy and believed that the 10-12 percent growth would continue unabated.

Of course, it didn’t. It couldn’t. That kind of growth is unsustainable, a fact lost on a number of business types who lost their jobs – and, in some cases, their shirts – insisting otherwise.

And, I was here for the crash, when so many poor souls went upside down on houses that were way overpriced.

The complexity of the economy is vast and twisted, to be sure, and the shivers generated nationally after trillions were pumped into a questionable war and the banking industry lured the unsuspecting into impossible traps set up by crooked home financing schemes.

But, Southern Utah, historically, has done little to prop itself up economically.

It all revolves around good jobs paying decent wages to support families scrimping to pursue the American Dream of a house, two cars in the garage and a few coins stashed away for retirement, something uncommon to the red rock landscape.

Dreams, as we all know, can often result in nightmares and we are flailing about in a continuance of those nightmares.

Southern Utah had great deals on land. It offered incredible tax breaks to industries that would offer jobs and promise to stay for five years, offered incentives to companies that offered above-the-line wages – few, by the way, signed on for that – and even ran power lines, water lines, extended railroad lines and negotiated prime utility rates to bring in jobs.

There were a few bites in both Washington and Iron counties.

Most figured it was worthwhile to come in, build a facility, stay five years at cut-rate overhead – including a poorly paid workforce – and then bail, selling their facility on their way out of town for more than it cost to build with the naturally appreciating commercial real estate market.

But very few signed on for raising the average wage.

I remember listening to a guy who was dealing with his managers who were complaining about the difficulty in finding people to fill job vacancies.

“It’s about the money,” he was told repeatedly.

“We have a profit goal to reach. Sell them on the safe community, family atmosphere, the beauty of the area,” he said.

“But, the bottom line is you can’t eat those beautiful red rocks,” he was told.

That guy is long gone from the Southern Utah community.

So what you have is a place where a lot of young people come, fresh college degrees in hand, to get a couple years of experience to put on their resume before heading out for greener – as in dollars – pastures.

They don’t buy houses because they can barely afford the rent. They buy the cheapest cars they can afford and are gone as soon as they get better prospects.

The imbalance comes, of course, from the other side of the economy, the folks who worked hard all of their lives, caught a real break in the California housing market and were able to retire comfortably. Should they be penalized or criticized for taking care of themselves or a streak of good fortune?

Of course not.

The people in between are the ones who suffer.

They struggle because they simply cannot make ends meet.

Should we penalize retirees living hand-to-mouth and trying to supplement their Social Security with part-time jobs?

Of course not.

And, families with deep roots to the community have to deal with seeing their children move across country to better-paying jobs in more affordable communities because they have student loans to pay off, families to feed and their own version of the American Dream to pursue.

Should they sacrifice their passions, their education and their dreams just to stay on the old homestead?

Of course not.

Utah was starting down a path to making major economic improvements during Jon Huntsman Jr’s. tenure as governor.

He placed great value on education and the recruitment of solid businesses. He sought vast amounts of venture capital to invest in Utah businesses – new and old.

But, he himself got a better offer and took a job in the Obama administration as the U.S. Ambassador to China. Like many of Utah’s best and brightest, Huntsman opted for a better job with more perks and more money.

Although the state is perceived as being well-managed, the economy – the real economy, not the beefed up spin of marketeers, loyalists and Chamber of Commerce reps – is not conducive to fulfilling the needs of residents, and that is a shame.

There is also a reluctance among many within the city to pursue the growth that is necessary for a vibrant, healthy community, with too many fighting to keep things the way they are, claiming that growth would ruin the small-town charm.

They don’t realize that there is no charm in closed shops and empty malls, just as they don’t realize that light manufacturing and service jobs will not spur the economy.

It would take somebody with courage to take the first step and start paying better wages, which would force others to follow suit to remain competitive.

But, it would be worth the effort.

Besides, we could all use a raise.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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  • Roy J June 28, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Yep, and what are the kinds of things that spur growth of themselves? Universities that offer solid graduate programs in the solid professions (law, medicine, engineering), ports (not going to happen here), and transport centers (highway and rail). Rather than just trying to tap Lake Powell for golf course water to the tune of egregious billions, upgrading the university or starting a new one from scratch, or trying to tap I-25, I-70, I-40, or I-17 and run them into I-15 right through the St George area would spur the economy all on its own. Money and influence better spent.

    • BIG GUY June 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      All golf courses and most parks and schools use secondary water for irrigation: non-potable well water and reuse water from the sewage treatment plant. The Lake Powell pipeline is all about growing Washington County to a 400,000+ population and enriching landowners and developers while keeping construction companies and workers busy. (I oppose the pipeline.)

      • Roy J June 28, 2016 at 4:52 pm

        Fair enough, BIG GUY.

      • mater June 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm

        Hey big guy what you don’t know is the city has one water system there is no separation from culinary and irrigation also I have personally seen a fire hydrant with hose ran to an irrigation pond on south gate golf course run wide open all summer long while the city preached water conservation and issued fines to people for watering their lawns

  • izzymuse June 28, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Well written Ed! Very true!! Thank you for a voice of reason in a monoculture community run by the ‘good ‘ol boys’ and “old money families” who own so many companies here. They will see – eventually – the effects of their stingy attitude and poor treatment of their employees. I have struggled to provide for my family here. Many companies I have worked for were run by local families who hire their own children. That’s cool. But they treat employees who are not family with low wages and unequal opportunities of increasing position (saving the best for family). My own personal experiences in St. George area have shown me that the company owners here do not appreciate the people who have made them rich.
    Ironic too, these families preach compassion and generosity on Sundays, but I have rarely seen that in daily situations, especially as their employee. I don’t blame the LDS Church, but I would like to see the members living what they preach.

    • BIG GUY June 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      In a market economy, companies pay wages sufficient to attract the workers they need but no more. Your employers paid what it took to get you to work for them. They didn’t pay more because there were others who would work for that wage if you had declined. Free markets are just that: employers are free to pay what they will and employees are free to accept offered wages or look elsewhere. Elsewhere might well be in another city where wages are higher. It would be nice if our average wages were higher but they aren’t because good people like you want to live here and are willing to work for the prevailing wage.

      All this has little to do with “practicing what they preach.” It’s free market economics, plain and simple. And to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous comments about democracy, “free markets are the worst form of economic organization…except for all the rest.”

      • Bender June 28, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        BIG GUY’s spot on here. Tough situation but not the result of conspiracy or Mormon oppression. It’s just the way Adam Smith rolls. I do think this on-going tight labor market will push wages up and smart employers will try to attract and hold on to good help with higher wages.

      • Bob June 28, 2016 at 4:05 pm

        Your beloved “free markets” are what brought millions of illegals in from the south as well as shipped millions of american factory jobs to china. In reality it is anything but free. it’s controlled and manipulated by certain small groups of people. when the “too big to fail” banks were bailed out that was anything but free. taking jobs from US citizens and giving them to illegals and chinese is anything but free. I don’t think such a thing as a “free market” as dreamed up in the minds of hard-right libertarian types can even exist in reality. Even here in good ol’ stg we are affected by global economic policies (ie the housing crash, etc). Why is stg so bad with wages tho? IDK maybe mormons do it just a little worse than everybody… LOL

  • 42214 June 28, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Good job laying out the facts. I’m one of those So Cal retirees that made an obscene profit on real estate and moved here to escape the 3rd world country California has become. Had no idea wages were so low because I didn’t need a job. It is embarrassing and stifles growth and community well being. Too many short sighted idiots that claim it’s 30% cheaper to live here and the rocks are pretty that keep this town in a rut.

    • BIG GUY June 28, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      Location keeps “this town in a rut.” St. George is located far away from the dynamic engines of our national economy and hence will always lag behind major metropolitan areas where wages are higher and the economy is vibrant. Then again, it is located in a beautiful natural setting and has a climate that appeals to many, including those from major metropolitan areas who want to “get away from it all.”

      St. George exists in its present form and size because of golf, air conditioning and nearby natural wonders. It will attract retirees, vacationers and second home buyers, none of which foster a high wage, dynamic economy. Complain if you will, but them’s the facts.

    • Henry June 28, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      42214 – your and Ed’s mentality is part of the reason that California has become what it is today. If the prevailing wages of St George bother you so much, what don’t you take some of that “obscene profit on real estate” that you made in SoCal and donate it to some of the underpaid locals?

      • 42214 June 29, 2016 at 12:26 am

        I do. I spend my money in St George just like you. Only I have a lot more to spend than you I assume.

        • Henry June 29, 2016 at 11:17 am

          42214 – bad assumption. I don’t need to flaunt my net worth the way that you apparently do.

        • ladybugavenger June 29, 2016 at 6:49 pm

          42214 is good for the economy here in good ole St George. The wages were low before people starting moving here from other states. You all should be thanking them for their money it’s because of outsiders coming that there are more restaraunts and grocery stores, and more Mavericks here.

          Apparently Henry is too

      • 42214 June 29, 2016 at 12:34 am

        Henry, your mentality is why St George is #2 in lowest wages nation wide and you seem proud of it. Scrooge is alive and well in St G.

        • Henry June 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

          42214 – no, your conclusion is totally incorrect; I was pointing out your apparent hypocrisy. You brag about how much money you have, but then berate local business owners for not paying their workers higher wages. The profits that some of these small business owners make are probably less than the “obscene” profit on real estate you claim you made. If you want to see Scrooge, go look in a mirror.

          • 42214 June 29, 2016 at 5:38 pm

            I’m not the one defending and justifying poverty wages, I think it’s you. Income tax, sales tax, property tax, spending disposable income in the community, employing local services. I do more than my “fair” share of economically supporting this community. It sounds like the guy who doesn’t pay one penny of tax complaining that the guy that does isn’t doing his fair share. Scrooge is the guy proud of low wages, not the guy who supports higher wages. I’m not talking about mom and pop small businesses. I’m more concerned about larger companies. I remember several years ago when the county sheriff complained publicly the difficult task in recruiting and retaining quality deputy applicants. He specifically cited the fact that UPS paid higher wages to drivers than the county paid it’s sheriff deputies. SGPD wages are ridiculously low. I can’t confirm but I heard that SGPD lost several officers to Mesquite a few years ago because of low wages prompting commitment contracts to new hires.

          • Henry June 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm

            42214 – you have several disconnects in your logic. First, how did you conclude that I’m a “guy that doesn’t pay one penny of tax”? Or even conclude that I pay less tax than you?

            Second, your nonsense about anyone “proud” of St George’s low wages. Who doesn’t support higher wages? BIG GUY articulated very well the systematic reasons why St George tends toward lower wages – service-based economy, location far from major population centers, large proportion of retirees, etc. Overall wages will move toward the equilibrium between what businesses NEED to pay to retain good employees and what businesses CAN pay while remaining economically competive.

            Lastly, you proclaim that you “do more than my fair share” to support the community, but insist that area business owners don’t. Really? What exactly is your “fair share”, and how does it compare to the business owners’? Or are you like Ben Cohen, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream? In a tv interview, Cohen insisted that everyone needed to pay their “fair share” of taxes. When pressed about exactly how much his personal “fair share” should be, Cohen basically said that he’s already paying HIS fair share – but he’s certain that all those other multi-millionaires need to pay more!

    • ladybugavenger June 28, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Smart move 42214. Enjoy your retirement! You paid your dues living in California. Literally, it’s so frick’n expensive.

  • BIG GUY June 28, 2016 at 10:04 am

    The bottom ten cities on Pew’s list have the following in common: a) smaller towns, b) desirable locations/climates for retirees and vacationers hence a disproportionate number of lower paying hospitality service jobs, c) no compelling rationale for large scale manufacturing or professional services businesses (e.g. software, accounting, legal, etc.), and d) long time residents unwilling to relocate. Each of the above factors contributes to low wages. For good or for ill, I believe these conditions will persist for the foreseeable future.

    Contrary to Ed’s comments, Utah has attracted big name companies and good jobs…along the Wasatch front. Driving along I-15 from Provo to Ogden and seeing the variety of high tech companies with logos on the myriad new office buildings bears this out. For example, Google wired Provo with gigabit internet service: it didn’t do this out the the goodness of its heart. These companies pay national scale wages, not local wages, so things are booming in that part of the state. But none of these companies have a compelling reason to locate in St. George.

    • izzymuse June 28, 2016 at 11:01 am

      That is great for “the Wasatch front”, but St. George is going to die economically IF big changes aren’t made. There are already companies here who could – and should – pay their workers more. Higher wages are possible here, but they won’t happen as long as the company owners’ way of thinking persists: #1 problem is no appreciation for workers – the very workers who made their companies so successful. I have personally heard company owners I have worked for brag about keeping a bigger piece of the pie (company revenue) for themselves because they can. That certainly does not keep the morale strong.
      Even county and local government jobs have this mentality: poor wages for teachers, police, county and local government workers etc. plus cuts in insurance and retirement, etc… Changes are needed in order to keep people here, much less entice others to move here. This all adds up to a bad situation for the community – the retired and young families here.

      • BIG GUY June 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

        Facts undermine your reply. St. George is not dying: it is growing and adding workers. People seem quite willing to move here and to work here. If instead workers were moving away, we’d have a labor shortage and either wages would rise to retain/attract workers or our economy would shrink. Neither is happening.

        Our economy is based on retirees, second homes and vacationers. Jobs needed to support that economy are by their nature lower wage jobs. Since we have a disproportionate number of these jobs, our average wages are low.

        As for any company gratuitously paying higher wages than are necessary to attract/retain needed workers, it certainly could be done and has been done in rare cases. Doing so would be an act of charity by the business owner. But if done by every business in a community, it would lead to higher prices for goods and services while discouraging new businesses from locating to an area of low profitability. Then indeed our local economy would stagnate: fewer retirees and fewer vacationers. Governments can raise wages by raising taxes: are you advocating that?

      • Bob June 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        The hard right-wingers call it the “free market” or “right to work state”, among other things. And you’re right, they are very proud that they can pay workers so little. It’s really an age old societal problem. There are the capitol holders or ownership class, and the wage earners or surfs. And we can’t expect mormon holier-than-thou employers to pay living wages out of the “goodness of their hearts”–never happened, and never will.

        • Bob June 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm

          there are rare exceptions of course (as far as mormon employers), but in general this “free market ” nonsense ideology wins the day. It’s one of the reasons the “free market” crowd loves illegal immigration–labor surpluses=suppressed wages.

          • Brian June 28, 2016 at 3:45 pm

            So tell us, Bob, what jobs have you created? How many over-paid employees do you have? Talk is cheap. It’s easy peasy to blame the holier-than-thou employers (and to stupidly pin it on a particular religion), but it’s far harder to deal with the risk and the hours of actually creating a company and dealing with the horrible state and federal government requirements, to put up with brutal audits (the Utah tax commission is a nightmare), to get sodomized over and over again by workers comp (even when you have no claims, simply because of the industry you’re in) and unemployment costs (even when none of your past employees have collected it). You deal with all the headaches and the imposed socialism and the gripes and the whining and the apathy, and then, only then, do you have an actual right to mitch and boan endlessly about how little you’re paid.

          • Bob June 29, 2016 at 1:19 am

            other areas manage to pay better, and utah actually has less regulation. mormons also have a reputation for not paying up, and i’ve dealt with it plenty of times in my own dealings. i blame the holier-than-thou levels of greed combined with an entrenched good ol’ boy network. Before u get ur panties all in a bunch thinking i’m attacking ur religion, just think about it awhile. cheers

        • Henry June 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm

          Bob – your terms are the same as those used by Karl Marx in his book The Communist Manifesto. The “ownership class” is defined by Marx as the Bourgeoisie; the “wage earners” are defined as the Proletariat. Are you proposing a Marxist solution to the wage gap issue?

          • Bob June 29, 2016 at 1:13 am

            ohhhhhhhh! you caught me! I’ve been revealed as a full-on marxist, lenin-worshiping communist. better red than dead, right?

      • Henry June 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm

        Izzymuse – so what’s your specific solution to the problem? Target some of the tech companies to which Big Guy referred? Raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour? Or something else?

        • izzymuse June 28, 2016 at 6:03 pm

          Henry – Ed’s article answers that question: “It would take somebody with courage to take the first step and start paying better wages, which would force others to follow suit to remain competitive.” The local companies and local government (when it comes to government jobs) need to simply do the right thing = raise wages = pay the workers more. LIVE WHAT THEY PREACH ON SUNDAYS! But I am not calling for more government regulations or higher wages enforced by new laws, etc…. Social awareness, local petitions and even boycotts and/or strikes may eventually happen once a few people get smart enough.
          No, I am not going to start an endless chain of debates with you, so I will not answer any ‘follow-up’ questions. I have to get to work and “bring home the bacon”. But I will say that ‘we the people’ must put social pressure on their employers and bosses. After all, the ‘fat cats’ sitting in their offices are usually the lazy idler living off the labor of the workers and laborers (Mormons should read their own scripture, D&C 42:42 “Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” and think about the situation. Usually they talk about the poor being the ones who take food from the rich, but from my experience the idle men are the bosses sitting in their cushy chairs while their workers’ hard work make the business successful.) Last point to ponder: Most bosses are bosses people because most people will never hire them! LOL! Sad, but true.

          • Henry June 28, 2016 at 8:24 pm

            Izzymuse – If you and Ed think that one company paying higher wages will shame all the other companies into following suit, I think you’re sadly out of touch with competitive reality. Lead the way with the “boycotts and/or strikes”. LOL

            Given your last statement – “Most bosses are bosses because most people will never hire them” – I hope you’re self-employed, because it doesn’t sound you would be a good boss or a good employee.

    • ThatNewGuy June 28, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Small note, didn’t Google actually BUY the fiber network in Provo (iProvo) and just expand upon it?

      St. George has shown a resistance to modernize, fearing the competition it could bring to local businesses (including ISPs). If St. George wanted to hold on to more of the DSU graduates, they’d try to incentivize some newer, bigger, more modern companies to locate here.

  • Bob June 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    it’s a tourist, retirement based town. There’s massive amounts of wealth here, but it will never trickle down to the poor sop scrubbing urinals for $8-9hr. people who would be better off leaving tend to get trapped here. see the same thing in similar sized towns.

    • Bob June 28, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      and yes, Dumpster, I speaking about your kind of folk. LOL

      • .... June 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        It’s dumpster not Dumpster and it’s I’m speaking not I speaking and it’s LOL ! not LOL .yawwwwwwn. …will dumbob ever learn. ?

  • Sapphire June 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I really liked living here in So. Utah, but it is frustrating and always has been. My former husband made $30 an hour in Vegas for a company which then only paid him $12 an hour when we moved up here. Then as a single mother I had to work several jobs to support my children because the wages were and are so low but the housing isn’t. I could never find an employer that appreciated an honest employee, and because I did bookkeeping, I was constantly being told to falsify accounts for tax and loan purposes. The other jobs I did all paid low wages even though I was always on time, did overtime whenever I was asked and always had my cash drawer right on to the penny at the end of my shift. There were dozens of unemployed people to replace me so why should they reward my efforts? Now as a senior, I cannot find any work at all. My health is shot from the long hard years. Social security is almost impossible to live on and the property taxes and insurance keep going up as housing inflates so I don’t see how lower income seniors will be able to keep their homes as the years go by. I will probably have to move to some unfamiliar state that isn’t as expensive just so I can survive, but it isn’t easy to move when you get older. The only good thing about being retired is that I don’t have to lie to customers, falsify financial records or play games with lazy supervisors who like to pick at all their employees for entertainment. There is a strange entitlement mentality here, but maybe it is like this everywhere. I hear So. Utah is a great place to retire if you have a decent retirement income and can afford to live in the senior communities. Just my 25 years worth…

    • Bob June 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Exactly, it’s a nice place to retire so long as you bring in your money from some place else. “Big Guy” will chime in and tell u how grateful u should be because the “free markets” are the Lord’s miracle, I’m sure, that as he stares starry-eyed at his photo of Reagan mounted on the mantel.

    • ladybugavenger June 28, 2016 at 4:51 pm

      Wow, did you work for the government, I’m just kidding kind of because I know it’s not just government jobs that ask you to falsify crap. I personally can’t be part of that so I stay away from jobs like that. At least scrubbing toilets is an honest job (Bob) . Yes, it’s everywhere there is no integrity left at most employers. In fact, it’s hard to find anywhere. I really hope that social security gets an increase however, when it does your rent goes up. It’s a pickle no doubt about it. . I suggest the Midwest area. It’s certainly expensive to move and I hope the best for you.

  • Charlotte June 28, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    I have worked in the same industry for more than 22 years in many cities in the western US. I was offered significantly less than half price wages here by the doctors in my profession in Southern Utah. Let’s see…overhead is cheaper, supplies are the same online prices, treatment fees are comparable, and we are servicing the same average number of patients or more…so why the discrepancy? The only conclusion I can draw is arrogance, collusion, and greed throughout Utah and Idaho. There is a caste system here. Thank you for speaking up and calling attention to this very serious problem.

  • beacon June 28, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I’m not sure where Ed’s coming when he says: There is also a reluctance among many within the city to pursue the growth that is necessary for a vibrant, healthy community, with too many fighting to keep things the way they are, claiming that growth would ruin the small-town charm. If anything, the decision makers here are all grow, grow, grow. When this area was growing at 8% (populations double in ten years when growth is 6%) before the recession, the wages were no better. Out of 29 counties Washington County is near the top in growth and near the bottom in wages and income. Just check the Utah Division of Workforce Services data. When does Ed think that the growth thing will result in the wages needed? Even in places that have grown by leaps and bounds, many young people can’t afford to live in the area. I’ve heard rumors that Home Depot and Costco had to cut the wages they normally pay when they wanted to move in here; I suppose to not upset the low-wage apple cart. Not sure if that’s true but I would not be at all surprised given the mentality about wages here, which is actually rather odd given that 10% off the top of LDS workers’ wages is supposed to go to the church. How can the faithful afford to pay 10% of their meager wages and still be able to feed and clothe their families or even just themselves and keep a roof over their heads and manage a vehicle? As for the retirees who are moving here with all their bucks, they do at least support the construction industry and related businesses with their lofty homes. That will work until the boom-bust cycle for that fails again and workers are again out of work as in 2008. At least with our growth rate at 2.9% now rather than 8%, there will be fewer left without work to support themselves and their families. Since about 27% of our homes are second homes, once they’re built, they just sit and only support landscapers while occasionally visiting themselves or their family members come and then perhaps support the rest of area businesses during the cold season in northern Utah or when special events draw them down.

    • Bob June 29, 2016 at 1:22 am

      yup i believe it, and costco is still probably the single best retailer to work for in this town

  • .... June 28, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I wonder how much dumbob makes going around the country preaching about his Zionist expertise and his Land Rover expertise and his unlimited knowledge of chemicals. . must not be much if all he does is hangout here and shows what kind of a blowhard he is. ……yawwwwwn

  • knobe June 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Very well articulated but I would have liked to see the actual wage numbers / averages / range .
    Still I totally agree with your rationale .

  • bblackh1 June 29, 2016 at 4:55 am

    The problem with stats like these is that St. George
    doesn’t “fit” into any of the categories that it is
    put into, so the results look poor versus “some other
    city far away.” However, the actual “lifestyle” that
    is resulted is far better than the pessimistic outlook
    portrayed by the raw numbers or the article. The
    biggest problem, in my opinion, that STG faces right
    now is Housing, not wages or jobs.

  • Marci June 29, 2016 at 8:40 am

    While yes it would be nice to be paid more in reality is it something that is going to be possible? Or is it going to turn into a situation similar to one where the minimum wage had increased? I’m speaking of (if the articles I read were accurate) employers having to lay off employees and on some fast food restaurants start the process of putting in robots to do the work. My husband and I have lived here in St George all of our working lives and have always lived paycheck to paycheck. We have had to move into his parents basement twice in order to survive at times. We have now just moved past the paycheck to paycheck phase (barely) due to our hard work and continual pursuit of edication. We have never owned a home and that may still just be a dream that is just out of reach. My reason in saying this is, is the lack of education beyond that of a bachelor degree part of the problem? I know the millennial generation gets told this a lot but my brother being one of them some believe that you should be able to work as little as possible and just be handed everything you want in life. Is that what will happen if employers decide to start raising their wages? Cut backs in staff, figuring out how to make use robots to replace humans, and fees the mentality of less hard work give me more money? I think this is just the beginning of the economic crisis.

  • 42214 June 29, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Base pay for a food server in Utah is $2.13/hour. Go into a large chain franchise restaurant in town and count the employees. The menu is basically the same and prices are the same. So on a busy night there are 10 servers making about 5 to 6 dollars an hour less that the same restaurant in another state. The labor costs are roughly $450 less a night. Over a year that is a lot of profit for the franchisee. I guess it’s OK because the cost of living is so low here and the red rocks are pretty.

    • Henry June 30, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      Fact check – 20 states besides Utah have a $2.13 / hr minimum wage for tipped employees, including New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia. A total of 42 states have a lower minimum wage for tipped employees than for non-tipped employees.

      • 42214 July 1, 2016 at 4:47 pm

        Didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.

  • Common Sense June 30, 2016 at 7:17 am

    I’m sorry but this just isn’t true. I moved here from Seattle. The cost of living is easily 40% higher. Yes, I took a decrease in pay but I am still making more here by the time I factor in how much I am saving in cost of living, transportation and taxes. I also believe that a lot of people just don’t have proper money management or work ethic and that they EXPECT everything to be handed to them.

    • Curtis June 30, 2016 at 8:29 am

      40% higher in Seattle or in St. George?

    • 42214 June 30, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      30% is over the top, now you’re at 40%? Look up the definition of hyperbole and get back to us. In the mean time, tell me where I can get a new Chevy in town for 40% below MSRP

      • Henry July 1, 2016 at 10:42 am

        42214 – I’m getting back with you, and it’s not hyperbole by Common Sense. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of living index for Seattle is 154.3, compared to 101.9 for St George. Do some research first and you won’t insert your foot in your mouth.

        • 42214 July 2, 2016 at 3:01 pm

          You make good points but no way is the cost of living in St George 40% less than Seattle. Use any index you want. Right off the bat Washington doesn’t have state income tax as compared to Utah, Gas prices, retail goods, cars, insurance, will have some give and take and could be lower in most cases but 40%, hyperbole.

          • Henry July 2, 2016 at 8:19 pm

            42214 – I understand your point; each of us have to evaluate our sources of information. Google says that “Sperling’s is often commissioned to conduct research studies which rank U.S. cities…” They cited studies by CNBC, USAA, and the New York Times. I consider Sperling’s pretty accurate and reliable.

  • BobJoeSmith August 26, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Here is what I see from a different perspective. Yes St. George is great for retirees. But what about the Young families? I’m 28 years old and my wife is 26. With my work experience and her associates degree, we barely scrape by on less than $50,000 year. We want to start a family but there’s really no point in doing that because our wages will stay stagnate, regardless of our work ethic and dedication to a job.
    Here’s some fun facts regarding the pay in this town. Based on market research sites that have investigated the “Average pay” of the following occupations. I believe it is a lie because I have never been paid nor have I met anyone that has been paid the average salary for these jobs.
    Registered Nurse (RN) $50,836.32($24.63/hr) In reality $41,280($20.00/hr)
    Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) $22,394.40($10.85/hr) In reality $16,512($8/hr)
    Administrative Assistant $30,939.36($14.99/hr) In reality $20,640($10/hr)
    Office Manager $31,868.16($15.44/hr) In reality $26,832($13/hr)
    Medical Assistant $27,595.68($13.37/hr) In reality $24,768($12/hr)
    Customer Service $26,646.24($12.91/hr) In reality $18,876($9/hr)
    Cashier $18,142.56($8.79/hr) In reality $14,964($7.25)

    My company just went through a huge restructuring and laid off 80% of its employees despite record growth year over year over year.
    Now I’m back on the job hunt and All I see is employers hiring for jobs that require degrees but the pay is not appropriate for the degree required to do the job.

    I guess my wife and I just don’t have the “hook up” or “connections”. Washington county isolates the young families 21-30 yr old’s. Its great for the college kids and semi retirees who don’t mind making $7.25/hr. Once these college kids get their degrees they leave Washington county for places that will pay a proper livable wage. We need to stop isolating the younger people and keep them in town, otherwise this place will be a graveyard.

    I see St. George looking like Mesquite in a few years, not in scope of size but more related to the fact that suicides are high and the economy is in the trash. Why? Because they only catered to retirees and not the young families who were born and raised there.

    I’m not saying that you should pay cashiers a high wage, but many jobs that require some skill or have high stress, should pay better and stop pointing the finger at liberals or conservatives. Everyone needs to get over themselves regarding that. Think for yourself instead of being brainwashed into thinking that anybody who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree at the least is dirt on the ground.

    This is towards everyone; Remember, the people you pay crap wages to, will resort to getting on some kind of welfare or food stamps or whatever. They will not try to better themselves because jobs with degrees also pay crap, also many jobs that people claim requires degrees…DON’T.

  • Travis September 22, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    To me, most of these comments and this article for that matter sound like ridiculous whiney nonsensical Bullshit. I am 24, and have lived in the St. George area for 10 years. I went to college but did not finish. I now work in the sales / service industry making about 50k a year. I have a new car and I am looking to (and can afford to) buy a home. I am not a good Ole boy don’t have any hook ups. I work hard and am good at my job I started at $7.25 per hour and fought my way up the ladder the same way anyone and everyone else can. Minimum wage is not supposed to support a family or even a single person for that matter it is there for young people just entering the job market. Learn a skill learn a trade work hard and do something you’re good at. If you expect working in fast food or running a cash register to support a family and allow you to buy a car maybe you should go back to highschool and attempt to learn some thing. Moreover the free market that you’re blaming for Southern Utah’s pit falls is the same one that you are praising for higher wages elsewhere. This is one of the quickly disappearing parts of FREE America left. Take your leftist sympathies elsewhere.

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