Utah helps boost rural economies by allowing state workers to work remotely.

Earlier, we linked to Association of Washington Business president Kris Johnson’s column on how remote work expands opportunities for rural economies. We’ve just seen evidence of how one state is making it happen.

The Daily Yonder reports:

“I like being able to avoid the traffic. I like the smaller population. Where we live, we’re close to the mountains and have access to national parks and entertainment and shopping,” the 46-year-old Medicaid program specialist said “If I can just stay out of the larger cities. I would just be happy for the rest of my life.”

Borrego is among a growing number of Utah residents working for the state government but outside of the capital of Salt Lake City. It’s part of an initiative to allow government workers to do their jobs remotely, thereby allowing them to remain in smaller communities outside of the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region of Utah that stretches along the Wasatch Range, containing major cities like Salt Lake City, West Valley City, and Provo.

The story continues,

Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox released his One Utah Roadmap in January, a guide to the administration’s first 500 days in office. In the roadmap, which is broken down into various categories, Cox named a goal to “streamline and modernize state government,” which according to the guide can be achieved by several means, including restructuring and re-examining how to make government work in a remote working world. 

“We find that we have more stability in some of our rural areas, less turnover,” said Casey Cameron, executive director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services. “They aren’t leaving for other jobs in the community. These sometimes are some of the best jobs in these communities and they really provide for that economic stability for those families to participate in these jobs.”

Read the whole thing. Here’s the close.

Ocean Muterspaugh, who lives in Monticello, is a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program specialist. 

The 44-year-old said working from home has cut down significantly on her time at work. She used to eat lunch at the office, so she would spend about 10 hours at work. Now, she’s able to work eight hours per day, giving her more time with her family. 

“I feel like the rural communities have more of a voice,” she said. “Not to say they didn’t before. But prior to Covid, I would have never been eligible for this position I have because it was only open to more urban areas. There is talent and people lost in the positions because they don’t live in urban settings.”