A house under construction in Sandy is pictured on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. Sandy remains the sixth most populated city in Utah according to 2020 Census. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)
SALT LAKE CITY — The Census Bureau on Thursday finally released raw data from the 2020 census following months of delays tied to ensuring the accuracy of the information collected last year.
While the data will be used in the coming months to help Utah — and all the other states — draw new congressional district boundaries and school board maps, the data released this week also offers incredible insight into Utah’s growth and how it compares on a national scale.
This includes patterns in age and race/ethnicity of residents as well as a look into new population patterns in the state. For instance, Wasatch County didn’t just lead the state in percentage increase growth, it placed seventh out of 3,138 U.S. counties.
The data also provides a new order for the 10 most populated cities in the state and shows which ones may enter the chat in 2030.
The new order of Utah’s top 10 cities
All 10 most-populated cities of 2010 remain in the top 10 again, but there were some shifts.
Salt Lake City is very much still the most-populated city in Utah. It gained 13,283 people — a 7% increase from 2010 — to reach a population of 199,723 in 2020. That’s nearly 60,000 more than the second-most populated Utah city: West Valley City.
West Jordan, with a population of 116,961, surpassed Provo to become Utah’s third-most populated city. It means Salt Lake County is now home to the top three most-populated cities in the Beehive State.
Provo, which has 115,162 residents, still gained 2,674 people over the past decade, but that growth — a 2% increase — was no match for West Jordan’s 13% population jump. West Jordan gained over 13,000 residents since 2010.
Orem, which remains the fifth-most populated city with 98,129 residents, also had a much larger population increase than its neighbor, Provo. It gained 9,801 residents, which is an 11% rise from the previous census.
The other change in the order came at No. 7. St. George passed Ogden as its population continues to soar. The southern Utah city gained 22,445 residents over the past decade, a 31% increase, while Ogden’s population rose by just 5% or 4,496 people total.
The Census Bureau also named the St. George metropolitan area as the third-fastest growing metro area in the U.S. behind just The Villages in Florida and the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown area in Texas.
South Jordan led all top 10 Utah cities and also landed in the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S., which were cities with at least 50,000 residents in 2010, but it didn’t move up the Utah population list yet. It gained 27,069 people — a 54% increase — over the past decade, and its population is now 77,487.
On the outside — for now
One reason the top 10 didn’t change much is because new cities and communities are absorbing Utah’s nation-leading population growth. Places like Lehi and Herriman are now officially cities, as defined by the U.S. census. They both surpassed 50,000 people over the past decade.
The Census Bureau reported a significant population increase for both cities by the emerging Point of the Mountain region. Lehi added 28,500 people over the past decade and its 60% growth moved its population to 75,907 and just outside of the top 10.
Herriman, which expanded by 153%, added the most of any community in the state over the past decade. With 33,359 new people, its population now stands at 55,144. To put that growth into context, its absolute change over the past 10 years is slightly more than the total population of American Fork.
Other fast-growing Utah communities
No community in Utah experienced growth quite like Vineyard. It jumped an astounding 8,924% between censuses. That’s because there were just 139 residents in 2010 before the old Geneva Steel mill land opened up for new development.
It’s now listed as having a population of 12,543. It surged from the second-to-last populated community in Utah County in 2010 to the 13th out of 32 Utah County communities in 2020, surpassing places like Cedar Hills, Lindon and Salem in total population.
We are growing so differently than other communities and need the flexibility from the state to grow in the way that lets us manage our communities’ needs most appropriately.
–Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer
In a series of text messages to KSL.com Friday, Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer said a sudden population spike in such a short amount of time means there are many infrastructure projects needed to catch up with the growth. Vineyard worked to upgrade its power grid and water storage, added roads and overpasses, and the city is slated to welcome the first new FrontRunner station in the state in almost a decade.
“We are growing so differently than other communities and need the flexibility from the state to grow in the way that lets us manage our communities’ needs most appropriately,” she said. “We are looking toward water, finite resource conservation, growing out our commercial zones, and finding additional ways to connect people to places and technology through proper planning.”
Still, she and other city officials feel that Vineyard was undercounted. Fullmer explained there are many students who would otherwise live in Vineyard but likely went home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She believes that and the inability of Census Bureau workers to conduct door-to-door canvassing as they normally would have in a non-pandemic year factored in the lower-than-anticipated count. The city estimates its population is actually a little more than 19,000.
Utah County had other large growers beyond Lehi and Vineyard. Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs nearly gained 20,000 each. Eagle Mountain is now on the cusp of that 50,000-population city status after its 104% growth doubled its population to 43,623 over the past decade.
Saratoga Springs’ population jumped by 19,915 to 37,696. All of these areas in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area helped it be the sixth-fastest growing metropolitan area in the U.S. over the past decade, according to the Census Bureau.
Then there’s Wasatch County, which neighbors Utah County to the east. Not only was it the seventh-fastest growing county in the U.S., Heber City had the fifth-fastest growing micropolitan area in the nation over the past decade. The micropolitan area grew 29% from 2010.
Heber City, Hideout, Midway and Timber Lakes all experienced at least 40% growth from 2010. Heber City’s population is now 16,856.
Meanwhile, Washington County isn’t home to the only growth in southern Utah. Cedar City in Iron County also landed in the top 10 of growing U.S. micropolitan areas over the past decade. The city itself grew by 6,378 people to 35,235 — an increase of 22%. Nearby Enoch added another 1,571 people, an increase of 27%.
Contributing: Annie Knox, KSL.com
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