If it feels like homes and apartments are going up faster than you can keep track—you’re right. That’s because the number of people moving into the Beehive State is growing rapidly.
The Census Bureau Population Division estimates that Utah’s population increased at a rate of 17.6% between 2010 and 2020, the highest rate of any state in the nation.
How many new people are coming to Utah?
In 2020, the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute found the state as a whole saw a near-record high of 25,256 out-of-state move-ins.
Migration into Utah didn’t really kick off until 2015 when the numbers jumped from 4,919 to 21,671 in a single year, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute report.
People in Utah County might be feeling the extra growth, as it was one of the counties with the most people moving in. They saw more than 10,500 new move-ins in the 2020 fiscal year, and Washington County had more than 6,600 move-ins in the same time period. Salt Lake County saw more than 3,000 move-ins, according to the same report.
“Right now, Utah County is providing a lot more affordable housing,” Emily Harris, a demographer at the Kem C Gardner Policy Institute told AP News. “There’s also a lot of development going on in northern Utah County. I think people really jumped at the chance to live in these new homes, places that are a little less expensive.”
Where are these new move-ins coming from?
Both people from the U.S. and people from abroad make up these high population numbers.
People moving into Utah have come from every state in the nation, perhaps most notably California. About 17,500 Californians moved to Utah between 2014 and 2018 (the most recent years with complete data).
Arizona contributed more than 8,000 people to Utah, Idaho more than 7,000 and Nevada more than 5,000 in the same time period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau migration tracker.
The trend of increasing diversity in Utah is projected to continue, according to Kem C. Gardner Institutes projections which estimate the minority population will grow from approximately 20% of the state’s population in 2015 to 35% in 2065.
According to the American Immigration Council, about 1 in 11 (9%) of Utahns was born in another country and about the same number have at least one immigrant parent. The top countries of immigrant origin include:
Mexico – 35%
India – 4%
Venezuela – 4%
Peru – 4%
Canada – 3%.
Utah’s demographics are shifting
As more people move to the Beehive State, demographics are changing. While it continues to be the youngest state in the nation, Utah’s median age broke 30 for the first time in 2017 and today its median age is 30.8. Alaska, the next youngest state, has a median age of 34.3.
Utah’s young population offers a robust workforce and tax base, packing the economy with a high number of available workers and taxpayers. Young adults are also more likely to be parents of young children and be first-time home buyers. Almost 8% of Utah’s population is under age 5, according to a report by the Utah Department of Health’s Indicator-Based Information System.
The University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business found that the youngest county in Utah is Utah County, with just 7% of its population being 65 or older, and the oldest is Piute County, with 24.6% of its population in the senior category.
How COVID-19 is impacting population growth
A majority of statistics for 2020 are still premature, and the toll on population growth during the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen. According to the most recently released estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew by just .35% between July 2019 and July 2020, the lowest growth rate the nation has seen since 1900. Much of that could be explained by closed borders—both in the U.S. and in other countries—and restrictions on travel.
With the nation’s strongest economy in 2021 (as reported by U.S. News), abundant recreational opportunities and high quality of living, the stream of people moving here seeking better opportunities is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Even though many people in Utah weren’t born and raised in the state, they now call Utah home. Venture outside your house and introduce yourself to your new neighbors and find out for yourself where they came from. In fact, you might want to share this article with your friends, because many of them could be wondering the same thing.
* Robert DeBry is retired from the practice of law