Researchers most often point to Utah as the nation's demographic anomaly, a place where demographic statistics most often end up at the high or low end of any given scale.
That's no more apparent than in the latest U.S. Census Bureau volume of statistics, the County and City Data Book. Some of Utah's 29 counties show up in the national ranking extremes in everything from the smallest population to fastest growing.Some of the numbers confirm facts most Utahns already know, such as that the Beehive State is a youthful place. Utah has 10 of the nation's 25 counties with the largest percentages of residents younger than 18 years. In Utah, the top five with a young population are San Juan, Rich, Duchesne, Emery and Millard counties. San Juan and Utah counties also are among national leaders in birth rates.
Utah's Washington County is a national leader in growth. The retiree haven was the 12th highest in population growth between 1980 and 1992. That is reflected in a top-ranked growth in households, 95.6 percent, and a 54.8 increase in housing units during the 1980s.
Some of the most troubling numbers show the poverty and problems of San Juan County, home to a small section of the Navajo Reservation. The county ranks 10th in the nation for overcrowded housing conditions and 14th lowest in personal per-capita income.
Among U.S. counties with the smallest populations is northeastern Utah's Daggett County, where census workers counted 729 residents in 1990. Because more than half of the housing units in the county are mobile homes, the county earned another top-25 rank in that category. The county also earned a top ranking because of the high percentage of government employees among county residents.
Tooele and Davis counties also rank high in that category because of the presence of Tooele Army Depot and Hill Air Force Base.
Piute County showed up as a county with a lot of homeowners. Some 85.7 percent of residents there live in homes owned by their occupants. That's the 19th highest in the nation.
When just comparing Utah counties, Cache and Salt Lake counties lead in their percentage of foreign-born residents, and Piute County has the greatest percentage of those older than 65 years old.
Summit County leads Utah counties in several categories dealing with wealth and education. It has the highest personal income and most expensive homes. The county also boasts the highest percentage of people who have completed college.
Highest ranking Utah counties in selected categories
Largest percentage older than 65, 1990
Largest percentage of foreign-born residents, 1990
Cache and Salt Lake Counties
Highest percentage of movers, 1985-1990
Highest percentage of one-parent households, 1990
San Juan County
Highest population growth, 1980-1992
Highest birth rate per 1,000 residents, 1988
San Juan county 29.5 per 1,000
Most physicians per 100,000 residents, 1990
Salt Lake County
288 per 100,000
Lowest percentage of elementary and high school enrollment, 1990
Highest money income per capita, personal income per capita and highest median value for housing units.
$16,739 money income
$20,285 personal income
$107,800 median housing value.
Lowest money income per capita and highest percentage below poverty level, 1989
San Juan County
$5,907 money income
36.4 percent below poverty level.
Highest percentage of owner-occupied housing units, 1990
Highest female civilian labor force participation rate, 1990
Highest amount of federal funds and grants per capita, 1992
Box Elder County
Highest percentage of earnings in manufacturing, 1990 (mostly from Thiokol Corp.)
Box Elder County
Highest percent of earnings in agriculture, 1990
At Your Service
Highest percentage of earnings in services, 1990
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, County and City Data Book.