This is Still the Place – Salt Lake City Ranked First for Upward Mobility

Salt Lake City (1)

In the days of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, you may start to wonder where the idyllic vision of the white picket fence and the American Dream have gone. As it turns out, for children born into lower-income families, the ideal place to live for a chance to pull yourself up into the economic middle or upper classes is in Salt Lake City.

The Equality of Opportunity Project, a joint venture by researchers from Harvard and U.C. Berkeley, has named Salt Lake City the number one location in the United States for upward mobility. In addition, the report says that residents of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area have an approximate 11.5% chance of reaching the top fifth income bracket after growing up in a family in the bottom fifth bracket.

Researchers utilized data between 1996 and 2013, first studying the levels of pre-tax income across generations, both the income of two parents and the income of their children upon reaching the age of 30. The resulting data was then divided into two categories: “Relative mobility,” the difference in projected economic status between children from high-income and low-income families; and “absolute upward mobility,” which projects economic status of children born into families earning an income in the 25th percentile ($30,000 per year). Other factors such as tax rate, racial segregation, and K-12 education were also considered.

Researchers mapped this data using the 741 census-derived population areas known as “commuting zones,” which are notable for the inclusion of rural as well as metropolitan areas.

Although researchers note inter-generational upward mobility is losing ground in the United States as compared to other developed nations, they went on to say that Some cities – such as Salt Lake City… have rates of mobility comparable to countries with the highest rates of relative mobility, such as Denmark.”

This report coincides with a separate report released last week that placed Salt Lake City as the fifth best city for economic growth and prosperity. To view the report and to learn more, visit

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