OGDEN -- A five-year survey of population and demographics by the U.S. Census Bureau shows Davis County's Hispanic population growing twice as fast as Weber County's.
Between 2000 and 2009, the number of Hispanic residents in Davis has gone up at least 62 percent. The Hispanic population of Weber County, with its heavy Hispanic-centered Ogden neighborhoods, went up 30 percent.
Percentages can be deceiving -- if two people become four, that's a 100 percent increase -- but the raw numbers are higher in Davis than in Weber.
The 2000 Census said Davis County had 12,955 Hispanic residents. Data released last week in the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, which looks at population and demographics between 2005 and 2009, shows 21,108 Hispanic residents in Davis. That's 8,153 more Hispanics, a 62 percent increase.
Weber County's Hispanic population rose by 7,403 residents, a 30 percent increase.
Joe Reyna, owner of the recently opened Viva! Market at 916 7th St., Ogden, said the Hispanic population in both counties is more middle-class and living in the suburbs.
He said Hispanics are becoming a much larger marketing and political force.
"The demographics are changing," said Reyna, who once served as vice mayor of Ogden.
"That's going to have a big impact on politics. The voting bloc of Hispanics is getting bigger, and the elected officials are going to have to pay attention to it."
Statisticians are questioning the precision of the ACS numbers, but not the trends they show. A survey by the University of Utah says Hispanic populations in Weber and Davis counties is actually much higher than the ACS numbers.
The ACS is supposed to be an intensive look at communities of all sizes. It was started during the Bush presidency to replace the Census Bureau's "long form," which was criticized as being too intrusive.
Pam Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah, said the survey has a weakness the Census long form did not: The survey was done with mailed questionnaires that weren't always answered or followed-up on. In many cases, the data returned was too small to be statistically significant or is missing entirely.
In some cases, the margin of error -- a statistical measure of how accurate the tally is -- is larger than the actual count. Morgan County's count of 105 Hispanics shows a margin of error, plus or minus, of 118.
For that reason, Perlich said, the ACS results have to be looked at broadly. For larger cities and counties, the numbers have value in that they show trends and changes in demographics.
Perlich's research for the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the university comes from the 2000 Census and is updated looking at building permits, birth and death records, school enrollment, building permits and church membership.
Perlich shows 24,147 Hispanics in Davis County as of 2009, an increase of 86 percent from 2000 and about 4,000 more than the ACS shows. She also shows 36,861 in Weber County, 4,000 more than the ACS study.
Perlich's numbers, and the ACS, also parallel Davis School District's numbers.
John Zurbuchen, the district's director of federal programs, said his data shows that, between 2003 and the current school year, the district's Hispanic enrollment went from 3,300 to 5,600, or a 69 percent jump.
"It's the families, big families," he said. "We have also seen an increase in population that are coming from California, Los Angeles, the urban areas, getting kids away from areas where they were getting into trouble."
To them, he said, "Utah was this wonderful place to bring your kids when you wanted to rehabilitate them."
The district's migrant numbers -- which would include low-income farm workers and transient workers -- "have actually decreased over the last decade, and that makes sense because of the definition of migrants being involved in seasonal agricultural labor."
The influx "certainly creates challenges that the district has had to respond to that we didn't have the urgency to deal with before," he said.
"Half of our student growth is from this population, and frankly, it's something we need to recognize. We are coming to recognize we need to respond to this in a positive, thoughtful manner."
For the first time this year, the Davis School District hired a translator so parents of Hispanic students know what is going on with their children.
It is using Hispanic students, who usually speak English and Spanish, to expand the district's bilingual abilities. Junior high and high school students tutor elementary students through a program called Latinos in Action.
Reyna, who has plans to open several more markets along the Wasatch Front, is betting his future on an expanding Hispanic population that has more money to spend.
While small corner Hispanic markets have opened in numerous places in central Ogden, Viva! is a mid-sized supermarket in what used to be a skating rink. He's near the city's northern border, surrounded by small homes built in the 1940s and 1950s.
His market research shows significant Hispanic population in those neighborhoods.
"I'm surprised at how many are moving from Los Angeles," he said.
"They sell their homes and invest here. The people from California are people who have resources. They're not necessarily looking for work."
He's seeing the Hispanic population intermix with the non-Hispanic population. There are a lot of mixed marriages, he said, and children of Hispanic families are Hispanic in culture but little else.
"That's a reflection of the assimilation," he said. "They consider themselves Hispanic, but they're more American than Spanish."