In 2050, Utah will have more than doubled its population, growth rates will have declined and the state will have an increase of more than 2 million jobs, according to projections released Tuesday by the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget.

Utah's population hit 2.2 million in 2000 and is expected to reach 5.4 million by 2050. That same year, the state's annual growth rate is projected at 1.3 percent — down from today's 2.4 percent — but will remain more than twice the projected rate for the nation as a whole.

Counties within or adjacent to the metropolitan region will have the most rapid growth.

But Washington County is projected to be the fastest-growing in the state with a growth rate of 3.9 percent.

Natural increases — the number of annual births exceeding annual deaths — will fuel 79 percent of the growth. Net migration — more people entering the state, fewer leaving it — will make up for 21 percent of the projected increases.

A significant portion of Utah's total growth will occur in ages 5-17, and the school-age population is projected to increase by 155,000 over the next decade.

According to the projections, Utah's total employment will increase from 1.4 million in 2002 to 3.5 million in 2050 with a growth rate of 1.8 percent — nearly twice the corresponding national rate.

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