January 19, 2022 (Salt Lake City) – The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute today released long-term planning projections for Utah, which show net migration becoming a steadily increasing force as the state’s population increases to 5.5 million by 2060. The projections, which include input from planning experts throughout the state, form the basis for long-term planning in Utah for transportation, water, education, and other needs.
“This new round of projections indicates an additional 1.3 million jobs that help drive continued population growth of an additional 2.2 million Utahns,” said Mallory Bateman, director of demographic research at the Gardner Institute. “These changes will be experienced differently though out the state, with Salt Lake and Utah counties continuing to be dominant drivers for both the population and the economy. Demographic shifts impact our statewide characteristics of age and households throughout these projections.”
Key findings from the report include the following:
- Continued growth – Projected growth in Utah results in the population increasing from 3,284,823 in 2020 to 5,450,598 in 2060, a 66% increase. The anticipated timing for reaching 4 million residents is between 2032 and 2033 and 5 million between 2050 and 2051.
- Salt Lake County to remain the largest county – Salt Lake County’s projected 2060 population of 1,672,102 residents is the largest in Utah. Utah County is close behind at 1,338,222 residents.
- Utah County experiences the most population growth – Over 30% of statewide projected population growth comes from Utah’s second-largest county, gaining the most residents between 2020 and 2060 (673,964).
- Southwest Utah is the fastest-growing region – With a population that is projected to more than double (129% increase), the Southwest Economic Region adds over 330,000 additional residents.
- Utah’s economy will continue to grow – The addition of over 1,300,000 jobs places Utah’s 2060 total employment at 3,448,350.
- The Wasatch Front remains the heart of Utah’s economy –Job growth in Salt Lake and Utah counties drives two-thirds of statewide job growth in the projection horizon.
- Employment growth is more concentrated than population growth – For example, Salt Lake County, the second-largest population growth center, will add more jobs than residents over the next 40 years.
- Statewide, projections indicate a doubling of households – Projected total households increase from 1.1 million in 2020 to 2.2 in 2060.
- Average household size decreases – Changing household dynamics and an aging population result in a decline in persons per household from 3.0 people per household in 2020 to 2.5 in 2060.
“The foundation of great public policy begins with the people it serves,” said Gardner Institute director Natalie Gochnour. “Providing accurate, long-term population projections will help business, government and community leaders better plan for the future.”
The latest projections build on the 2017 Long Term Projections produced by the Gardner Institute. This newest set of projections incorporates the available 2020 census data, Utah Population Committee estimates through 2021, and Department of Workforce Services Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages 2020 job counts. Modeling updates include new economic regions, additional industry-specific earnings data, more flexible economic scenario modeling, and improved geographic detail for mortality, labor force participation, and unemployment assumptions.
The full report and accompanying materials are available online.