Utah No. 1 in growth by whites during past decade, census says
Census • Mormon culture may be factor affecting Utah as well as neighboring states.
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Few states saw fast growth among non-Latino whites over the past decade. But Utah was different, leading the nation with 16.7 percent growth by that group, a new U.S. Census report says.

The 2010 Census shows that Utah's growth among non-Latino whites was a whopping 14 times higher than the national average growth of 1.2 percent, according to a Census Bureau report released this week on the population of whites.

"It's because of all the babies born here," said Pam Perlich, research economist with the University of Utah.

"It's another imprint of the Mormon culture region" and the importance that Mormons put on having children and families, she said. Utah has the lowest median age of any state because of all the children.

Perlich added that a mini-baby boom of women born in the 1980s hit their peak child-bearing years in the past decade, which may have contributed to Utah's high numbers.

Several of the few other states with fast growth among non-Latino whites border Utah and may also be influenced by Mormon culture. The states behind Utah were Idaho, up 15.5 percent; Arizona, 12.9 percent; and Nevada, 12.2 percent.

The new report said that only eight states had growth of 10 percent or more during the decade among non-Latino whites. Fifteen states actually saw that population decline.

The census showed that 80.4 percent of Utah reported being non-Latino whites. However, Perlich said about half of all Latinos also report themselves as whites. When those numbers are added in, Utah is 88.5 percent white, the report said.

Counting Latinos who also reported themselves as white, Utah's overall growth for whites in the past decade was 20.3 percent — and second in the nation to Nevada among that expanded group.

Among Utah Latinos who also reported themselves as whites, population grew by 64 percent in the past decade.

The census said Utah's non-Latino white population was 2.22 million. When Latinos who reported themselves as white are added in, the overall white population was 2.45 million.

Nationally, 75 percent of the population was white.

ldavidson@sltrib.com