Report: Utah’s Population Nears 3.3 Million; Births Lowest Since 1999

Dec 3, 2020, 7:02 PM | Updated: 11:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Beehive State is closing out the decade with yet another year of strong population growth and for the first time, Utah County has surpassed Salt Lake County in one key measure, according to new estimates from the Utah Population Committee.

Utah has added approximately 509,000 residents since 2010 and the state’s total population is now approaching an estimated 3.3 million people, a research brief from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah said.

“The Wasatch Front and southwestern Utah continue to expand and bring migrants from other regions,” the brief said.

In fact, migration accounted for 48% of Utah’s population growth over the last year, the estimates show.

At the county level, over the last year, Washington County had the fastest population growth rate of just over 4%. However, it was Utah County that had the highest numeric increase this year with 19,437 new residents.

“Interestingly, for the first time in Utah’s recorded history, Utah County surpassed Salt Lake County in natural increase. Salt Lake County has significantly more births than Utah County, but also significantly more deaths, leading to lower natural increase,” the report said.

Only two of Utah’s 29 counties, Duchesne and Grand, had an estimated loss of population.

“National and Utah births have declined annually since 2008,” the research brief said. “Utah’s 46,510 births in fiscal year 2020 are at the lowest level since 1999.”

The report also said Utah still has the fourth-highest fertility rate in the nation.

“People are waiting longer in their lives to have their first child, which we know also decreases the number of children that they could potentially have in a lifetime,” said Emily Harris, a demographer with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah and author of the research brief.

The population committee said that the global pandemic is impacting its estimating process and that they are awaiting the new census data that will be released in 2021.

“We also anticipate a higher number of deaths in 2021 due to COVID-19, leading to a sharper decline in natural increase if births do not increase,” the report goes on to say.

But demographers said it’s too early to know the pandemic’s true impact on population growth.

“People are still moving to Utah; people are still having kids,” Harris said. “A lot of those long-term patterns we don’t anticipate will change drastically into the future.”

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Report: Utah’s Population Nears 3.3 Million; Births Lowest Since 1999