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Utah appears to be fastest-growing state in the past decade

Residential neighborhoods in Orem are pictured on Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah on Tuesday released state and county population estimates for 2020.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A census preview indicates that Utah was the fastest-growing state in the last decade.  

A decade of growth

Estimates released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Utah’s population this July was 3,249,879. According to that number, the total population increased by 485,994 people since 2010. For comparison, that’s roughly 2.5 times the size of Salt Lake City.

In terms of percentage, it’s a growth of 17.6%, well above the average growth rate nationally of 6.7%.

The latest data also indicates that growth in Utah isn’t projecting to slow down anytime soon. The state population increased since last year by 46,496 people. That’s a growth of 1.5%, ranking it fourth highest in the country only behind Idaho (2.1%); Arizona (1.8%); and New Hampshire (1.5%). 

Also released Tuesday, were estimates about voting-age population in each state. 

According to that release, Utah’s voting-age population, essentially everyone older than age 18, is 2,320,603. That accounts for 71.4% of the total population, which happens to be the lowest percentage of any state.

US population grows slightly, birth rate down

New estimates place the total population of the United States at 329,484,123, which is up 6.7% over the decade. 

Emily Harris, with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, says Utah is following a national trend of fewer births dating back to 2008.

According to her, Utah’s 46,510 births in the 2020 fiscal year are expected to be the lowest level since 1999. A big reason behind that could be the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“A lot of times people change their fertility behaviors if there’s a lot of uncertainty,” says Harris. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect people may be having less children and that COVID-19 may be impacting that.”

Despite the decline in birth rates, individual pockets of the Beehive State continue to grow quickly.

Washington County is the fastest-growing county in Utah this year, with a 4.1% jump in growth. 

St. George is the fifth fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S., while the Provo-Orem metropolitan area ranked ninth.