Utah’s Latino population grows by 78 percent

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s Hispanic population grew by 78 percent over the last decade and now makes up 13 percent of the state population, Census data released Thursday shows. The Hispanic population grew by 156,781 since the 2000 Census. There are now 358,340 Hispanics in the state. Whites continue to dominate Utah’s demographic makeup. However, when Hispanics who chose their race as white are included, 20 percent of the state is considered a minority. Other minority groups were growing quickly over the past decade, as well. The black population increased by 66 percent, Pacific Islanders increased by 62 percent and Asians increased by 49 percent. Each of those races account for about 1 percent of the state population. Utah’s overall population has grown to 2.76 million since the 2000 Census. Pam Perlich, a senior research economist with the University of Utah, said the minority population growth is the most noticeable aspect of the new numbers. Even more notable is 57 percent of the population increase for people under 18 was among minorities, Perlich said. Statewide, the population growth was the largest in suburban areas along the Wasatch Front, which includes Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. Those counties remained the four most populous, with Salt Lake topping 1 million people for the first time after seeing 14 percent growth. The county also has the highest percentage of minorities, with about 25 percent. Utah County, the second most populous county with 516,564 people, grew by more than 40 percent. The fastest-growing county was Wasatch County, with a 55 percent increase. Washington County in southern Utah also grew by more than 50 percent, with 53 percent growth. About 70 percent of the growth is attributable to the state’s birthrate, which is the highest in the nation. The other 30 percent is due to in-migration, Perlich said, although the numbers of people moving into the state have slowed along with the economy. The numbers released Thursday are provided to state officials for redistricting efforts. In Utah, legislators will begin tackling redistricting beginning in April, after the Legislature adjourns. Significant population gains happened in traditionally more conservative areas, especially Utah County, said House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo. “It’s where we expected the growth,” she said. “But we will redistrict based on where the numbers tell us, and using the principle of one man, one vote.” Among the 20 most populous cities, the fastest growing was Lehi, with a 150 percent population boost. Salt Lake City grew by a modest 2 percent, but Perlich said it was the first time the city saw any growth in the past three Censuses. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, reiterated his concerns about the Census Bureau refusing to count Mormon missionaries in a news release. In 2000, Utah missed out on a fourth seat because the Census Bureau does not include people living out of the country in a state’s population unless they are military or federal personnel. ——– Associated Press reporter Jennifer Dobner contributed to this report from Salt Lake City.

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