A population analysis by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has shifted the population of Utah from a natural increase to a net migration.
LOGAN – At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, demographers predicted deaths from COVID-19 would reverse Utah’s traditional population growth trends.
However, based on an analysis of recent population statistics, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah says the population of Utah continues to grow, although it is now due more to net migration than natural increase.
According to the US Census Bureau, Utah was the fastest growing state in the country with an average annual rate of 18.4% from 2010 to 2020.
Historically, much of this growth has been due to the natural increase resulting from the birth rate. But in 2021, new citizens moving to Utah accounted for nearly 60% of the state’s population increase.
Natural increase is the number of births minus the number of deaths recorded statewide. Over the past decade, Utah’s total fertility rate has fallen from 2.25 (the highest birth rate in the country) to below the replacement level in 2019. This decline in the fertility rate was further complicated by the state’s death rate reaching 15% during the pandemic (for example, 2,800 victims of COVID-19.)
The Gardner Institute says Utah’s population has grown from 3,284,823 to 3,343,552, a net increase of 58,729, in the past year. But 34,858 of those new residents (59%) were workers and their families, who likely migrated to Utah to take advantage of the state’s searing economy.
Population statistics for the Bear River Health District reflected these statewide trends.
Cache County is now the fifth fastest growing county in the state. The county’s population is 137,255, up from 133,743 a year earlier. This is an increase of 3,513 for a growth rate of 2.63%. In total, 1,400 of these new residents are the result of natural increase (2,069 births and 669 deaths). Another 2,113 new residents were net migrants, accounting for 60 percent of the new population growth.
Population growth in Box Elder County was similar, but more so. Box Elder’s population jumped by 1,334, reaching 59,220 in 2021 from 57,886 a year earlier. This includes 299 new residents due to natural increase and 1,035 newcomers (78 percent).
The population of Rich County has increased by 43 in the past year to 2,559 from 2,517 a year earlier. This represents 19 new residents from natural increase and 25 from net migration (56 percent).
The four counties that are growing faster than Cache County are Iron County (6.2%), Tooele County (4.1%), Washington County (4.0%) and County of Utah (2.9%).
But about 90 percent of Iron County’s population growth can be attributed to net migration, as can 94 percent of Washington County’s growth and 80 percent of Tooele County’s growth.
The population has grown in Utah County by nearly 20,000 new residents and 55% of them are the result of new migration.