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Minorities provided nearly two-thirds of Salt Lake County's population growth last year. Statewide, they accounted for more than 40 percent of the increase.
That comes as Latinos, especially, continue their rapid growth in Utah, with almost all of it coming from births rather than immigration, according to new U.S. census estimates on race, age and gender released Thursday.
The data also show that while Utah still has the nation's youngest median age, that is starting to rise quickly as the large baby-boom generation starts to reach senior-citizen age. Younger generations, such as millennials, now claim larger shares of the state's population than boomers.
The racial and age shifts show that "Utah will be a very different place" for the rising generations, "very different than even the Utah of 1980," said Pam Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah. "This means we need to retool our institutions to fit a new reality."
Longtime Latino activist Archie Archuleta said minority growth "is great news. But at the same time it can bring both positive and negative consequences."
He added, "It will increase our chances of doing better at the polls" and bring more political power. "Negatively, when a minority group grows, it usually triggers fear and apprehension in the majority. ... That's what happened [with murders] in Charleston. I'm glad we're starting to address those feelings."
Ian Thompson, development manager at Comunidades Unidas, which tries to build bridges between Latinos and others, said, "The process of integration is a two-way street. The mainstream community does need to reach out to minorities if we want them to be included in society. It cannot all come from just [Latinos'] side."
Minorities grow • Salt Lake County's population increased by 10,879 people in 2014, and 65.9 percent of that or 7,172 people came from minorities, new data show.
Statewide, the minority population jumped by an estimated 17,300 people in 2014, the equivalent of the population of Brigham City. That was 43.1 percent of the state's population spurt. The minority population has grown by 70,369 since 2010.
Perlich noted that Salt Lake County is seeing much more growth in minorities than the rest of the state. While minorities provided 65.9 percent of the population growth there last year, they provided only 31.7 percent of the growth elsewhere.
"The rest of Utah looks much more like the old Utah," she said, "and Salt Lake County is really leading these generational changes of increasing diversity."
Minorities account for 20.7 percent of Utah's population. By county, that ranges from a high of 53.4 percent in San Juan (because of its large Navajo population making it the only "minority-majority" county in Utah) to a low of 4.7 percent in Morgan.
Along the Wasatch Front, minorities now make up 27.4 percent of Salt Lake County's population, 22.9 percent in Weber, 16.7 percent in Utah County, and 15.3 percent in Davis.
Latinos • Latinos are the state's largest minority, making up an estimated 13.5 percent of Utah's population, up from 13 percent in the 2010 census.
The Latino population has shot up by 40,420 in those four years (roughly the equivalent of the population of Bountiful) and grew by an estimated 9,345 in 2014 alone.
Asians account for 2.4 percent of the population; American Indians, 1.5 percent; blacks, 1.3 percent; Pacific Islanders, 1 percent; and people listing two or more races, 2.4 percent, according to new estimates.
Births account for most of the growth in minority population, Perlich said.
"We have very little by way of in-migration now," she said. But Perlich noted Utah had big waves of immigration, with large numbers of Latinos, from the 1990s until the Great Recession took hold in 2008. "We know that people who immigrate tend to be young. They are still here, and are having babies."
While Utah is adding 50,000 jobs a year now, Perlich said census data show that has not reignited much immigration into the state. Instead, people who were in school or out of the labor market are taking those new jobs. Also some new jobs are part time, "and some people are taking a second job."
Diversity by age • Data indicate that Utah's younger generations are also far more diverse than its older ones. For example, 26.8 percent of Utah children under age 5 are minorities but only 8.8 percent of those age 65 and older are.
Nationally, 50.2 percent of Americans under age 5 are now minorities giving minorities a majority in that generation for the first time ever. Also, millennials born between 1982 and 2000 nationally exceed the population of the post World War II baby-boom generation for the first time. Millennials in Utah actually passed baby boomers in 2010, in part, Perlich said, because of Utah's high birthrate and young median age.
Millennials account for 23.2 percent of Utah's population, compared with 17.5 percent by baby boomers. The largest generation in Utah is children through age 17, with 30.7 percent of the total.
Utah still has the nation's youngest median age at 30.5. But that has climbed by 1.3 years since the 2010 census.
Perlich said that happened because older baby boomers are becoming senior citizens and older people naturally have higher death rates. Birthrates also have decreased in years after the recession began, although that trend may have reversed last year.
The new data also show that Utah is one of 10 states where a majority, 50.3 percent, is male.
Perlich said Utah's young average age creates that phenomenon.
"The sex ratio favors males at birth," she said. "By the time you get to about age 45, women outnumber men."
65.9 • Percentage of population growth provided by minorities in Salt Lake County in 2014. Statewide it was 43.1 percent.
70,369 • New minority Utah residents between 2010 and 2014, roughly equivalent to the population of Layton.
20.7 • Percentage of Utahns who are minorities, including 13.5 percent Latino, 2.4 percent Asian, 1.5 percent Native American, 1.3 percent black, 1 percent Pacific Islanders, and 2.4 percent who are two or more races.
30.5 • Median age in Utah, up from 29.2 in 2010.
50.3 • Percentage of Utahns who are male. Utah is only one of 10 states that have male majorities.