Blog Post

Insight: How might COVID-19 affect Utah’s Population Growth?

By: Mike Hollingshaus

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is challenging Utah’s individuals, families, and institutions. Following the guidance of our public health experts should help alleviate harm. In the meantime, we must still prepare for our states’ future operations while coping with near term disruptions. This leads us to wondering: How might COVID-19 affect Utah’s population growth?

It’s impossible to make detailed predictions. Since humans are clever in adapting to new circumstances, we must settle for informed guesses. Major disruptions will probably be short lived, and depend upon national, state, local, and personal responses. An excellent piece on long term impacts is available here.

Populations grow through three “components of change”—net migration, births, and deaths. The most likely scenario is one where net migration and births decrease while deaths increase, yielding smaller population growth.

Net migration will probably decrease.

Utah’s robust economic growth and high quality of life have powered a recent in-migration surge. As the economy suff