SALT LAKE CITY -- Bankruptcy filings and home foreclosures are on a downward trend in Utah, a sign that its economy continues to improve.
Utah's 7,596 bankruptcy filings during the first half of 2013 were down 12 percent from the year-earlier period, Bankruptcy Court Clerk David Sime said Thursday.
"One of the reasons we're seeing a decline is lower interest rates and better employment," Sime said. "We seemed to weather the recession better than most states. You see a lot of high-tech jobs coming in."
Still, the bankruptcy rate in a state with big families remains high by national standards. Utah ranked sixth among states in per-capita filings during the first half of 2013, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, a research group.
The Salt Lake Tribune first reported on the figures.
Meanwhile, the foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said the number of distressed homes declined 47 percent in June over the same month a year ago.
The most recent figure showed 454 houses entered foreclosure or were repossessed by banks in Utah. The number was down from a year ago, but more recently it rose nearly 30 percent from May.
RealtyTrac's quarterly report Thursday ranked Utah 16th nationally with one of 194 housing units seeing a foreclosure filing.
Utah had the country's fifth lowest unemployment rate in May at 4.6 percent, according to the most recent figures available.
A few weeks ago, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Utah was on track to add 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days -- a pledge he made during a State of the State address in January 2002.
Utah has 1.2 million nonfarm jobs, more than Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming or Idaho, but fewer than Arizona or Colorado, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Utah is performing well by many measures, especially among technology companies. It promotes an urban corridor in northern Utah 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.
That tech corridor running from the Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy to Provo has added 24,000 jobs since January, said Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
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.
However, wage rates are unexceptional, Utah spends less than almost all other states on public education, and four other states have lower unemployment rates.
Hourly earnings average $22.80 in Utah, which is greater than in Nevada or New Mexico but less than in Arizona or, notably, Colorado, where wages average $25.46, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.