The trend continues: The population in Weber and Davis counties and much of the rest of Utah keeps growing as the debate rages over where to house everybody and how to keep the state’s infrastructure up to snuff.
New estimates for 2019, released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, show that numeric growth is strongest in the most populous counties of the state — Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber and Washington counties. Overall, Utah’s estimated population grew from 3.15 million in 2018 to 3.21 million. Here’s what happened in the state’s five biggest counties:
Salt Lake County’s 2019 population totaled 1.16 million, up 12.7% from 1.03 million in 2010.
Utah County’s population reached 636,235, up 23.1% from 516,639 in 2010.
Davis County’s population reached 355,481, up 16% from 306,492 in 2010.
Weber County’s population reached 260,213, up 12.5% from 231,218 in 2010.
Washington County’s population totaled 177,556, up 28.6% from 138,115 in 2010.
The increases have big implications as communities wrestle with how to contend with more people and find housing — affordable housing — where they can live. Housing and growth are key issues in most every Weber County locale.
Earlier this year, Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins spearheaded the creation of a body, made up of leaders from around the county, that aims to look at the housing question. The group is in its infancy, he said Thursday, but he noted the pressures that bode against a quick or easy solution.
Developers can sell homes at premium prices, Jenkins noted, reducing the incentive to build at more affordable price points. Then there are the pressures from some within communities against allowing higher-density housing like apartments and townhomes — typically more affordable and able to accommodate more people. North Ogden leaders shot down a proposed rezone to accommodate a seven-building, 166-unit apartment complex off Washington Boulevard last month, leery about allowing too much development too quickly.
Statewide, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah, natural increases — births minus deaths — accounted for 60% of the state’s population growth between 2018 and 2019. Net migration, people moving to the state from elsewhere, accounted for 40% of the growth.
But figured by county, the breakdown varies, and the particular mix — increases from within versus newcomers from other states and countries — can have implications on how a county evolves and develops.
In Weber County, migration accounted for 52% of the population growth in the last year, with the natural increase accounting for the other 48%. Natural increases were the big growth motors in the state’s other most populous counties, accounting for 83% of growth in Salt Lake County, 84% of growth in Davis County and 64% of the growth in Utah County.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Census Bureau count proceeds. The population figures, once gathered, will be used in doling out certain federal funds and in creating federal legislative districts.
As of Wednesday, according to the Census Bureau, 31.5% of Utahns had responded either online, by mail or by phone, slightly exceeding the national rate of 28.1%. Within the state, response rates were 31.7% in Weber County, 39.7% in Davis County, 33.6% in Salt Lake County and 35.1% in Utah County.