Utah County welcomed 22K new residents in 2021; 10th largest increase in US
LEHI, Utah — Utah County had the country’s 1oth-largest numeric population increase in 2021, adding 21,843 new residents, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.
“Utah is really in the middle of the pack when it comes to population size, so the fact that one of our counties ranked in the top 10 nationally is a large deal,” Emily Harris, senior demographer with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, said in an interview with KSL TV.
While Utah’s metro areas can normally break into the top ten for percentage growth, Harris explained in a blog post, she has never seen a county from the Beehive State make the top 10 for annual numeric increase.
“It’s definitely becoming a powerhouse in Utah,” Harris said of Utah County.
Harris said Utah County is seeing growth from both natural increase and migration.
“We’re seeing a ton of housing development there,” she said. “We’re seeing a ton of job creation there and that’s just really creating an environment that a ton of people want to be a part of.”
Southwest Utah’s Washington County added 9,302 residents in 2021, according to the new estimates. When added together, Utah and Washington counties were responsible for more than half of the state’s population growth.
In terms of having the highest annual percentage population growth in the country, the St. George metropolitan area ranked first with 5.1%, the Provo-Orem area came in eighth at 3.3% and the Logan area ranked 1oth with 2.9% growth.
“Absent from this list is Salt Lake County, which experienced high net out-migration (-6,759) and only saw 0.02% growth since July 1, 2020, contributing almost no growth to the state,” read an analysis by Harris.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2021 population estimates show that a record number of counties saw a natural decrease. In 2021, more than 73% counties in the U.S. experienced natural decrease. That’s up from 45.5% in 2019 and 55.5% in 2020.
“Natural decrease occurs when there are more deaths than births in a population over a given time period,” the Bureau said in a press release. “In 2021, fewer births, an aging population and increased mortality – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic–contributed to a rise in natural decrease.”
During the pandemic, there was also a shift from more populated counties to medium and smaller ones, the new estimates revealed.
“The patterns we’ve observed in domestic migration shifted in 2021,” Dr. Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections in the Census Bureau’s Population Division, said in a press release. “Even though over time we’ve seen a higher number of counties with natural decrease and net international migration continuing to decline, in the past year, the contribution of domestic migration counteracted these trends so there were actually more counties growing than losing population.”
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