Population Update: Utah averaging 160 new residents per day

Dec 8, 2021, 8:27 PM | Updated: Dec 9, 2021, 11:12 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The Beehive State is averaging 160 new residents per day over the last year and is experiencing the highest level of people moving into the state since 2005, according to a new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“Right now we know there are a ton of jobs available, there’s a lot of hiring going on and that’s a huge driver for people coming into the state,” Emily Harris, a senior demographer and author of the report, said in an interview with KSL. “Also, Utah is just really on a lot of people’s radar now. It’s a beautiful place to live. It’s got great amenities.”

According to the new estimates from the Utah Population Committee, the state added 71,936 people since the 2020 census. Utah’s total population now stands at an estimated 3,343,552.

From July of 2020 to July of this year, the report said Utah added 58,729 residents.

“Historically, natural increase dominated the state’s total population growth; however, in 2021, positive net migration was the main contributor to Utah’s population growth,” the report said.

Utah County’s growth accounted for 33% of the statewide population growth. The county had the highest numeric increase by welcoming 19,367 new residents over the last year.

“The estimates and data indicate that Utah County is just the growing powerhouse in Utah right now,” Harris said.

House Speaker Brad Wilson said state leaders are very aware of problems associated with a booming population.

“Our focus at a state level and a policy level is to ensure that our state’s in at a better place than we find it,” Wilson said during a virtual discussion hosted by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Wilson said growth doesn’t have to be the enemy but that Utah needs to be thoughtful with long-term planning for transportation, housing and recreation.

“The problem is, there’s no system to ensure that we continue to grow our recreation assets as a state—places for people to go play as the state grows,” Wilson said. “We need a better system to automatically figure out what those needs are and fund those needs.”

The policy institute released the following key results of its policy brief:

Natural Increase – Since July 1, 2010, Utah has experienced an annual decline in natural increase due to annual births decreasing while annual deaths increase. National trends during this same period depict a declining fertility rate significantly impacted by the Great Recession. Utah’s total fertility rate (TFR) fell from 2.45 in 2010 to below replacement level (1.99 in 2019), moving from the highest TFR in the nation to the third highest.

Net Migration – Utah’s 2021 net migration is 34,858, almost 10,000 more than last year’s estimate. This estimate is the highest net migration since 2005 and is the 7th consecutive year that net migration has been above 20,000. Net migration contributed 59% of Utah’s population growth over the past year, up from 49% of state growth the year before.

Region and County-Level Results – Iron County had the fastest growth at 6.2%, followed by Tooele County (4.1%), Washington County (4.0%), and Utah County (2.9%). Utah County had the highest natural increase, net migration, and population growth in the state, far exceeding Salt Lake County’s 0.8% growth. One-third of statewide growth between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, came from Utah County residents. Salt Lake County contributed 15.9% of growth and Washington County was responsible for 12.5% of growth. Davis, Weber, Cache, Iron, and Tooele counties contributed between 7.7% and 5.1% each to the state’s growth. Garfield County was the only county to lose population in 2021.

Impacts of COVID-19 – Although the anticipated impacts of COVID-19 on births were not apparent in the data, the significant increase in deaths changed how the state and many counties grew. Net migration became the driver of growth statewide, increasing by 15% over the previous year and driving growth in three-quarters of counties. While net migration varies annually in Utah, natural increase (outside of a global pandemic) typically does not. Once COVID-19 related deaths subside, there is an expectation that natural increase will stabilize.

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Population Update: Utah averaging 160 new residents per day