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Utah's population grew by an estimated 40,115 people over this year, according to new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
"That's like adding a city about the size of Bountiful to the state," said Robert Grow, president and CEO of Envision Utah, which has been working on the "Your Utah, Your Future" initiative by Gov. Gary Herbert to plan how to handle growth.
The Census Bureau officially estimated Utah's population at 2,942,902, as of July 1 this year.
That was up by 1.4 percent over 2013, or exactly double the national growth rate of 0.7 percent.
Ninety percent of that increase or 36,141 people came from "natural growth," or having more births than deaths. Net migration to the state was just 4,230 people.
Recent Envision Utah surveys show that "if you ask Utahns what's the cause of Utah's growth, three-quarters of the people believe it is in-migration," Grow said. "In fact, historically for decades, it has been 70 percent from internal growth."
Grow added, "I used to tell people, if you don't like the growth and you want to see the culprit, go home and look in the mirror."
The governor's office of management and budget estimates that Utah will add another 2.5 million people by 2050 nearly doubling the current population. Grow said this year's increase is consistent with such projections.
A challenge in planning how to handle such increases is that "as long as people in Utah think it is [caused by] in-migration," he said, "they don't own the challenges of growth perhaps in the way we all need to."
Natural growth has been down in recent years both nationally and in Utah, said Pam Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah. She pointed to a dropping birth rate and a greater percentage of older people with a higher death rate.
"The same trend is happening in Utah. But in relative terms, it isn't as pronounced." That's because Utah still has the nation's highest birth rate and has the nation's youngest median age, in part because of influence by the Mormon culture.
Most of the small net migration to Utah last year was international which can include Mormon missionaries going and coming from abroad, members of the military, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.
The census estimated Utah's net international migration at 5,465. It said domestic migration was negative 1,235, meaning more people left Utah for other states than came from them.
"That's perplexing," said Natalie Gochnour, associate dean of the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. "It's not what we would expect given our economic growth," noting Utah "has the second-fastest growing economy."
The disparity has her questioning the migration numbers. "That is why they call it an estimate, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that number revised up next year."
Grow said that Utah's net migration may have been down a bit in the past year because more Mormon missionaries likely left the state than returned because the church lowered the eligible ages for missionaries, creating, at least temporarily, a bigger pool for missionaries.
The new estimates continue a trend of population increases much smaller than were seen in the boom before the recession.
Perlich said the recovery from the recession "has been anemic," and has led some people to delay having more children and deterred others from moving to Utah to look for jobs.
(That slow growth may finally be turning around, as the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday reported the national economy registered its fastest growth rate in more than a decade. See the story on A5.)
The new Census numbers show that Utah still ranks No. 33 for total population just behind Arkansas and just ahead of Kansas. It's growth rate ranked No. 8.
The population of the United States is now estimated at 318.86 million, up by 2.4 million in the year.
Florida is now the nation's third-largest state with 19.9 million people, surpassing New York at 19.7 million.
The largest state is California, with 38.8 million residents. Texas is No. 2 at 27 million. Wyoming's 584,153 residents make it the smallest-population state.
2014 population • 2,942,902
2013 population • 2,902,787 (newly revised)
Increase • 40,115
Growth rate • 1.4%, twice the 0.7% national rate.
Growth rate rank • No. 8
Size rank • No. 33
Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates