Steve Griffin, Deseret News
FILE - Sunrise lights the Salt Lake City skyline as a thick blanket of fog covers the Salt Lake Valley on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — When the conversation turns to the current stalwarts of tech in Utah, Qualtrics, Pluralsight, Adobe, Domo and a few others are sure to figure largely.

However, findings in a report released Wednesday that drilled down into data in one area of the state reflect that the No. 1 hirer of tech-related professionals in Salt Lake City is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The report from Indeed.com lists the church in the top slot of its ranking of tech hirers in Utah's capital city, with Zions Bank, Overstock.com, Progressive Leasing and Western Governor's University rounding out the top five.

Heather Tuttle

Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff said employees with expertise in technology are of increasing significance to the work done at the world headquarters of the faith in Salt Lake City.

"Technology plays an increasingly important role in the workplace, and we rely on highly skilled employees to understand and harness it in order to further the mission of the church," Woodruff said in a statement. "We are pleased to hire talented individuals from across a number of industries — including technology — to assist in the church's work around the world in family history, missionary efforts, humanitarian work and other areas."

While the Indeed report did not include details on the data set used to compile the rankings, Mark Knold, senior market researcher for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said he wasn't surprised to hear that the church was among the top tech employers. He noted the need for technological expertise is far more expansive than just among companies that specialize in tech innovation.

"It's a very broad base," Knold said. "The LDS Church, University of Utah, Goldman Sachs, Intermountain Healthcare and many others in our area have a deep need of tech expertise, but they're not what most people would think of as tech companies."

The report also underscores that, since January 2018, tech job postings in Salt Lake City have risen some 12 percent. And, it points to a number of factors contributing to that growth.

"The city’s rich ecosystem of tech activity is fueled by top-notch talent, as well as the presence of global tech giants, up-and-coming startups and tech conferences that attract thousands of attendees each year," the report reads.

Indeed also evaluated the top-paying tech jobs in the area, with salaries that are far outpacing the average earnings of Utah employees. Tops among the various categories are experienced experts in web development, according to the report.

Heather Tuttle

"The highest-paid tech workers in Salt Lake City are senior web developers, earning an annual salary of $118,737," the report reads. "Web developers build applications that are often customer-facing, including user interfaces. Unlike software engineers (No. 8) who use their knowledge of data structures and algorithms to design and build software and services, web developers primarily work with websites and web apps."

Data released by the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute in February reflects just how significant tech and innovation jobs have become as a driver of the state's overall economy.

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The Gardner report found in 2017 that Utah's tech companies were directly and indirectly supporting over 302,000 jobs in the state, while paying out some $20.1 billion in wages and generating almost $30 billion in contributions to Utah's gross domestic product. The report also noted that, on average, tech-related jobs were paying around $77,000 per year in total compensation versus an average of a little under $51,000 for all other industries.

Gardner researchers also noted that tech and innovation industries are responsible for 1 in every 7 jobs in Utah and that the state's growth rate for tech jobs has been outpacing the national rate by a margin of 2 to 1.

The collective skill set of Utah's workforce, however, has failed to keep pace with the growing demand for tech expertise from the state's employers. As of January, data collected by Workforce Services shows nearly 6,000 unfilled tech jobs statewide.