Demographics in Utah are unique in many ways: the state has the highest birth rate, the lowest death rate, and is the youngest state in the country.
New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show Utah is also the fastest-growing state in the nation. The Beehive State grew by just over 2% between July 2015 and July 2016, which pushed the population to exceed 3 million people.
The Census Bureau data does not include breakdowns by cities or counties—that should be released in early 2017.
But Pam Perlich and her team of demographic researchers at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute have been studying that on their own. They’ve found that for three years in a row, the highest numeric growth has been happening in Utah County.
“We look at silicone slopes, a whole lot of retail development, a whole a lot of residential development,” Perlich says. “It is just an astonishing amount of economic development and real estate development.”
Perlich says a statewide 2% growth rate is sustainable, but state and local governments still need to plan for a steady population increase moving forward.
“If we don’t plan for it, it will just happen to us,” she says. “So as we think about what we want our communities to be, we think about things like affordable housing, reasonable transportation, maintaining open space, all of those things.
Demographers have projected that in 50 years Utah’s population will nearly double to 5.5 million people.