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Utah Is The Country’s Fastest Growing State — But It Didn’t Get A Fifth Congressional Seat

Photo of 2020 Census form header.
Utah’s population grew by about 18% over the past decade, according to U.S. Census data.

Utah’s population grew by 18.4% over the past decade — making it the fastest growing state in the country. Despite the ranking, it isn’t getting an extra Congressional seat since it only added about 508,000 people.

Meanwhile Texas grew by 15.9%. That’s about 4 million new residents — which resulted in two new seats.

“Even though Texas' rate of growth may have been lower than Utah, the absolute number of people that the population increased by in Texas was a bit larger,” said Michael Barber, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

He said this just means there will be more work for the state’s elected officials.

“It’s probably going to be harder for people to get the attention of their legislator,” he said. “[Lawmakers] are going to have more constituent services that they’re going to have to do.”

There are only 435 U.S. House Representatives, and Barber said people could make the argument that more seats should be added instead of taking representation away from some states and giving it to others.

“We had fewer constituents when the country was founded,” he said. “Each member of the House represented about 30,000 people. Today, each member of the House represents more than 700,000 people.”

Barber said Utahns shouldn’t be worried about representation, because if the state keeps growing at this pace, it could very well get a fifth seat come 2030.

But Utah’s growth rate has actually been slowing down over the past few decades. In the 2000 census, it was nearly 30%. In 2010, it was about 24%.

Mallory Bateman, with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said the growth in the ‘90s really shifted the national perception of the state.

“It was a big change from a more Western kind of separated state,” Bateman said, “and now we're part of that broader Intermountain West that's been growing throughout the decade.

She said the institute is working on learning the characteristics of the people who move here, but for now, she said Utah’s economic situation is probably a large reason for the continued growth.

Ross Terrell is the managing editor at KUER.
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