By: Pamela Perlich
Today we are publishing Utah’s first ever state-level race and ethnicity population projections. We project single year of age and sex for 2016 to 2065 for seven population groups: six non-Hispanic race groups and Hispanics. These new projections provide a more detailed view of the future that can potentially inform a wide range of policy planning and evaluation applications. This work builds on 2017 baseline Utah projections.
We project that Utah will continue to become more diverse along many dimensions, including race and ethnicity. Minority population shares of Utah are projected to increase from the current 20 percent to 35 percent by 2065 and will account for half of the state’s population growth. This is a generational shift with youth becoming ever more diverse as compared to the elderly. This demographic transformation is a result of Utah’s increasing global interconnections, principally through markets, technology, and migrations of people. We project that Utah will remain less diverse than the nation, but trend in the same direction.
It has been fascinating to both study and experience Utah’s ongoing demographic transformation over the past several decades. Bottom line: Utah at less than 2 million was a very different place than Utah at greater than 3 million residents. Utah’s population growth has been fueled by a consistently strong natural increase and also a steady stream of new people choosing to make our state home. People move here for economic, educational, and outdoor recreational opportunities. They come from all over the nation and increasingly from international source regions. These new Utahns, and their children, continue to contribute to the cultural, linguistic, religious, ethnic, and racial diversity of our state. We project a continuation of these trends.
We observe definitive evidence of Utah’s increasing demographic diversity in a wide range of data sets. Trends in race and ethnic population counts are indicators of Utah’s increasing diversity and are among the most important evidence that we study to track these demographic shifts in Utah. The Census Bureau provides historical census counts and current population estimates of race and ethnic populations in Utah, but not projections.
These race/ethnicity projections for Utah provide a new set of data that we hope will contribute to more well-informed decisions, policies, and plans. We acknowledge the uncertainty inherent in all projection work. At the same time we recognize that this trend of Utah’s increasing diversity is ongoing, cumulative, and irreversible. This is the New Utah.
Figure 1. Minority Share of Population, Utah and U.S., 1900-2060
Pam Perlich is the director of demographic research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.