Blog Post

Insight: Utah’s Pacific Islander Community

By Heidi Prior

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™.

August was Pacific Island Heritage Month in Utah. Though the festivities have mostly wrapped up, it’s never too late to reflect on data around this unique segment of Utah’s population. Utah has a long history of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander residents, but this blog summarizes findings from the most recent data – the 2016-2020 American Community Survey 5-year estimates and the 2020 census redistricting data.

In these estimates, over 1,440,000 U.S. residents, or 0.4% of the U.S. population, identified as “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” either alone or in combination with other racial categories. Here in Utah, this group, which we will refer to as Pacific Islanders, composed a much larger portion of the state population: 1.6%.

With close to 50,000 Pacific Islanders, Utah boasts the fifth largest state-wide Pacific Islander population in the nation, after Hawaii, California, Washington, and Texas. Utah ranks third for the share of Pacific Islanders in the state’s population. Only Hawaii and Alaska have higher proportions of Pacific Islanders.

Figure 1. Number of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders Alone or in Combination by State, 2016-2020

  Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2016-20