2020 census counts ways in which Utah’s rapidly growing population is aging and diversifying

Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured Wednesday. The US Census Bureau is set to release more information gathered in the 2020 survey. The influx of new apartments and condos in Utah County has fueled population growth relative to Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah‘s population growth has outpaced all other states over the past decade as it ages and diversifies as a whole.

More details on the change arrive this week in a release of data from the 2020 US Census. Figures released Thursday will shed light on trends in race and ethnicity, as well as where new homes are popping up and how. cities and counties are transforming.

“Utah at 2 million (people) was a very different place than Utah at 3 million,” said Pamela Perlich, director of population research at the Kem C. Gardner Institute. “A huge change has taken place.”

As Front Wasatch becomes more metropolitan and connected to the global economy, it has attracted a diverse set of workers from around the world, Perlich noted.

Beehive State doesn’t get a new congressional seat this time around, but the numbers will inform changes in representation at State House and are used to redraw school district boundaries.

State-level estimates from Perlich and colleagues have helped track incremental changes over the past decade, as well as smaller census publications comparing one year to the last. The new numbers will help determine if their predictions come true.

Last year’s tally was unlike any other. The pandemic has delayed door-to-door efforts in Utah and across the country and forced events to be canceled to encourage participation. He also sent students en masse to their families and brought many Latter-day Saint missionaries back to Utah, Perlich noted, blurring the typical dynamic in the once-a-decade tally.

Moreover, an unsuccessful attempt to include a citizenship issue by former President Donald Trump has likely curbed the participation of undocumented migrants and their families, experts and advocates have said.

Here’s a look at the trends that have helped define the state over the past decade:

Steady growth

Supported by a strong economy, Utah’s population reached 3.27 million last year, an increase of nearly 508,000 – 18.4% – since 2010. It was the largest increase in percentage of the country, behind neighboring Idaho, then Texas and North Dakota.

The Beehive State ranks among the top nationally for births, but its growth rate has actually stabilized in recent years. Perlich doesn’t consider this a break, however.

“We’re not going to see any relief from these kinds of growth pressures in Utah for the foreseeable future,” she said.

When the numbers are factored in, the state remains small. Its population is only a fraction of the 40 million people of California and the 30 million people of Texas.

Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured Wednesday.
Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured Wednesday. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Greater diversity

More than one in five Utahns are a racial or ethnic minority, including more than one in four Utahns under the age of 18.

Utahns of Asian descent are the fastest growing racial and ethnic minority, and the group includes people from other states or countries, as well as newborn babies. Many people who move to Utah are looking for opportunities to attend state universities or put their talents to work in Utah’s tech, biomedical or other industries, Perlich said.

Young people who are biracial and multiracial also further fuel the diversity of the state.

When the numbers are taken into account, Utah’s more than 460,000 Hispanic residents – about 14% of the state’s total population – still constitute the largest ethnic minority.

Small towns are growing

The pockets of the state have made the headlines of population booms in recent years.

Vineyard, the former home of a Geneva steelworks, grew into a suburb and became America’s fastest growing place in 2019, growing from less than 140 residents a decade earlier to nearly 12,000. Lehi also dominated the national rankings as apartments and condos emerged. Perlich said she was eager to see if the data confirmed her team’s findings that Utah County is contributing more growth than neighboring Salt Lake County.

At the gates of Zion National Park, St. George claimed the title of the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States two years ago and has always been in the top 10. Perlich said change was fueled. largely by retirees. , outdoor enthusiasts and those who work in tourism.

Young but aging

Utah’s trend towards large families means it’s still the youngest state in the country, with a median age of 30.8, according to 2019 census estimates. But it’s still getting older, online with a national trend. A decade earlier, Utah’s figure was still in the 1920s, at 29.2. Thursday’s numbers won’t give details on age, but a later version is expected to do so in the coming months.


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