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The population of fast-growing Utah just surpassed 3 million residents — and is expected to skyrocket to the 4 million mark in just 16 years.

''Our quality of life and sound economy are attracting people from around the world who are seeking opportunity,'' Gov. Gary Herbert said Monday as he announced reaching the milestone.

''Utah's growth is validation that we are doing things right,'' he said. ''Perhaps more importantly, we are creating opportunities for our children so they can pursue their dreams here at home in Utah.''

The University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute estimates that Utah passed 3 million sometime this month, but the exact date depends a bit on migration.

Pam Perlich, director of demographic research for that institute, said it took 119 years from when the Mormon settlers arrived for the state to reach its first 1 million residents in 1966. It took another 29 years to hit 2 million in 1995. Then it took 20 years to achieve 3 million. The 4 million mark is expected in 2031.

She said Utah's population now increases by about 1 person every 13 minutes. A baby is born every 10 minutes, someone dies every 35 minutes, and someone moves into the state every 90 minutes.

About two-thirds of the last million in population came from ''natural growth,'' or more births than deaths, Perlich said. The other third came from in-migration.

To illustrate the point, Herbert announced the new milestone at the maternity unit of the state's newest hospital, Mountain Point Medical Center in Lehi.

Perlich said it was appropriate to make the announcement in Lehi because northern Utah County and southern Salt Lake County are the epicenter of Utah's current population spurt.

For example, the population of nearby Saratoga Springs skyrocketed by 37 percent since the 2010 census, Herriman mushroomed by 31.1 percent, Bluffdale by 30.1 percent, South Jordan by 24.5 percent and Eagle Mountain by 19.4 percent.

''Utah has been on an amazing population growth path,'' Perlich said, adding that few could have imagined it in 1950, when the population was about a half-million, and the state's economy was isolated and dependent on mining, agriculture and military bases.

''Since 1990, Utah has emerged as a globally connected place,'' Perlich said, ''with people coming to Utah from all over the world for economic and educational opportunity.''

She noted Utah's universities ''are in global competition for talent and bring people from all over the world.'' The state is also a home to refugees from around the globe.

''And we are headquarters to a global religion that sends a 'sales force' of impressive young people to international destinations delivering a message of optimism and hope from a place called Utah,'' Perlich said, referring to Mormon missionaries. ''This, too, brings new people to our state.''

New growth has made Utah more diverse. In comparison with the 1950s, when Utah was nearly all white, minorities now make up 21.7 percent of the state's population, according to 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

''The milestone of 3 million Utahns is yet another piece of evidence,'' Perlich said, ''that Utah is in the midst of a remarkable economic and demographic and cultural transformation.''

The Gardner Institute figures that Utah has been the fifth fastest-growing state since the 2010 census — and added 179,017 people since then, about the population of Salt Lake City.

Utah likely surpassed Arkansas in the past year to become the 32nd most populous state, the institute said.

Utah has a distinctive demographic profile that has helped fuel growth. It has the highest fertility rate in the country at 2.34 births per woman in 2013, compared with 1.86 nationally.

With all those births, Utah has the lowest median age in the country at 30.5 in 2014, compared with 37.7 nationally.

Utah also has the largest household size in the country at 3.16 person in 2014, compared with 2.65 nationally. —

Growing by the millions

When Utah reached, or is expected to achieve, key population milestones:

1 million • 1966, or 119 years after the Mormon settlers arrived in 1847.

2 million • .1995, or 29 years later.

3 million • 2015, or 20 years later.

4 million • expected in 2031, in 16 years.

Source: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, University of Utah.