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New Census estimates help show that the recovery from the recession is being kind to the well-educated and rich in Utah, but is brutal to the rest.
"It's a tale of two recoveries," between haves and have-nots, said Pam Perlich, demographics director at the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
She and her staff evaluated new Census estimates released Thursday that combine survey information gathered from 2010 to 2014, providing enough data to look at small places in Utah with confidence in the statistical soundness. They compared it to similar data for 2005-2009.
They said people who have the right training and education for the new economy are seeing wages rise nicely, but poverty has spiked up among the others.
Perlich said it shows "this recession was not an ordinary recession. It wasn't just that jobs went away and then the same jobs came back. There are jobs that went away that have never come back."
So, she said, "As this recovery has progressed, the people who are doing well [because they are highly educated] are being richly rewarded…. But for people who have low educational attainment, this has been a brutal time."
For example, data show that median household income is up, but so are poverty rates.
Statewide, median household income rose from $55,642 in 2005-2009 to $59,846 five years later. Highest household income is now in Summit County, $89,886; Morgan, $79,304; Davis, $70,388; Wasatch, $65,582; and Tooele, $63,077.
At the same time, said Perlich, "We also have increases in families in poverty, children under 18 in poverty, individuals in poverty and Latinos in poverty."
Between the two five-year periods, households in poverty increased statewide from 7.7 percent to 9.4 percent; poverty for families with children rose from 10.7 percent to 13.2 percent; poverty for individuals went from 10.8 to 12.8; and for Latinos, poverty increased from 20.2 to 26.4.
The counties with the highest poverty rates are San Juan (home of the Utah portion of the Navajo reservation), 28.1 percent of all residents; Iron, 22.8 percent; Grand, 16.3; and Sanpete, 16.1.
Such data helps show that "if you were a high-school educated person who had a good job that went away [in the recession], finding a new one is extremely difficult in this new economy," said Perlich. "There are fewer jobs for people with low education."
Data show other long-term changes, too.
The growth rate of new households slowed as many young people lived with parents. Utah's lowest-in-the-nation median age is rising as people have fewer babies amid tough times. And growth in the population of foreign-born residents slowed.
For example, in the 2005-2009 boom-then-bust period as the recession hit, 18.6 percent of Utah residents would move to a new home annually. In 2010-2014 period when the recession hit bottom and the recovery started, that dropped to 16.5 percent.
It shows a decline in formation of new households, Perlich said. "Part of that is young adults stayed in the homes of their parents longer."
The change in mobility is especially dramatic in some college towns. It dropped from 37.2 percent to 19.9 percent in Cedar City and from 41.1 to 31.5 in Logan. Even in Salt Lake City, it dropped from 24.7 to 21.2.
While Utah still has the nation's lowest median age, it has been rising steadily since the recession hit. "We've had fewer babies every year since 2008," Perlich said.
Statewide, the median age rose from 28.5 in 2005-2009 to 29.9 five years later, up 1.4 years.
Places where changes were most dramatic were Moab, where the median rose from 33.7 to 39.8, up 6.1 years; Providence in Cache County, 25.8 to 30.6, up 4.8 years; and Washington Terrace, from 29.6 to 34.2, up 4.6 years.
Estimates also show the once-rapid increase in foreign-born residents slowed. Statewide, 8.4 percent of Utahns are foreign-born, up from 7.9 percent five years earlier.
"Yes, it's increasing but not at the kind of rates we saw during the economic boom," with fewer immigrants now attracted for economic reasons, Perlich said.
Foreign-born people now account for 22 percent of the population in West Valley City, 17.5 percent in Salt Lake City (virtually unchanged in five years), 14.3 percent in Taylorsville, 12.8 percent in Ogden, and 11.2 percent in Logan.