Blog Post

A Look at Utah in 50 Years

By: Pamela S. Perlich

This week, we released our county level demographic and economic projections for Utah for the next half century. These projections are the culmination of two years of research and development work by our team at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Given my long history and deep involvement in this projection work, my inclination is to share stories about and lessons from the past two years. I will resist this impulse and focus instead on what the work has taught us about Utah’s next 50 years.

For the foreseeable future, growth and change are our constant companions here in Utah. Economic and educational opportunity will continue to attract and keep people in the state as our rate of population growth continues to outpace that of the nation. We project the state’s population will nearly double, growing from 3 million in 2015 to 5.8 million in 2065. This growth is geographically concentrated in the Greater Wasatch Area, composed of the four large Wasatch Front counties and the adjacent ring counties. The population growth dynamic in this urban area has shifted into Utah County, where we expect a million more people, resulting is a population of 1.6 million by 2065, nearly matching the 1.7 million expected to reside in Salt Lake County by 2065. The capital county is expected to maintain its role as the primary economic engine in the state, with four of every 10 jobs in the state by 2065. The extent of the urban area is expected to expand into the adjacent “ring” counties, notably Wasatch, Juab, Morgan, and Tooele Counties. This combined urban area plus Summit County, will be home to 8 of every 10 Utahns by 2065.

Washington County is projected to continue its own remarkable growth path, surpassing half a million (509,000) residents by 2065. Its projected population growth is unparalleled in the state, ultimately surpassing Weber to become the third most populous county in the state. Its cumulative growth rate (229 percent) is the most rapid of all Utah counties.

Our 50-year l