State: 2011 Utah growth was less than Census figured
Population • Slow growth likely means fewer future liquor licenses.
Published: May 23, 2012 04:50PM
Updated: May 23, 2012 10:39PM
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A state committee decided Wednesday that Utah’s population is growing a bit more slowly than the U.S. Census Bureau says.

That ruling will likely mean fewer future liquor licenses, as population-based quotas for permits already have hit maximums calculated using higher numbers. Also, state officials say their data now shows that net immigration to the state is near zero.

In short, the new data mean Utah has fewer immigrants and fewer future liquor licenses.

The Utah Population Estimates Committee met Wednesday to come up with the state’s own estimate for its 2011 population, based on data that it collected about housing, school enrollment, Internal Revenue Service filings and LDS Church membership — plus U.S. Census estimates.

It put Utah’s 2011 population at 2,813,923, or 3,299 fewer people than the Census Bureau had previously estimated.

That committee of academics and local and state officials was formed in 1967 to give the state its own estimates, figuring the state may more quickly catch changes with its locally generated data — and during boom times its numbers were often higher than those of the Census Bureau.

Mike Mower, committee chairman and deputy chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert, and state demographer Juliette Tennert said liquor license quotas are based on projections that use the committee’s estimates. Because they are a bit lower than the Census, it could lower future projections.

“But the committee’s estimate isn’t that much different than the Census, so it won’t make that much of a difference,” Tennert said. She added that the numbers are meant mostly as a planning tool to help the state and counties figure growth trends and needs.

The committee figured that Utah’s population grew by 39,260 people in 2011. “That is the equivalent of adding the population of Summit County that year,” Mower said. “Almost all of our increase last year was home-grown.”

The committee figured that only 6 percent of the population increase came from net immigration, and 94 percent came from “natural growth,” or the difference between births and deaths.

“Those numbers mean that in-migration was essentially flat,” Tennert said. “But the fact that we had some shows that our economy is in relatively good position compared to others, because we are still attracting some people.”

University of Utah research economist Pam Perlich, who is a member of the committee, said that natural increase actually is higher because of booming immigration that hit before the recession.

“Many of the people who immigrated were young and in their child-bearing years, so this [higher natural increase] is an echo of that immigration,” she told the committee.

Mower noted that Utah’s smallest county, Daggett, passed the 1,000-person mark for the first time with an estimated population of 1,115 — and by percentage was the fastest growing county in Utah last year at 3.5 percent.

The committee figured that five counties lost population last year: Beaver, Emery, Garfield, Piute and Wayne.

Among the state’s largest counties, Salt Lake had 1.2 percent growth to a population of 1,045,829; Utah County had 2.2 percent growth to 530,789; Davis County had 1.6 percent to 312,603; Weber had 0.5 percent to 233,241; and Washington had 1.8 percent to 141,219.

Competing estimates

The Utah Population Estimates Committee on Wednesday said Utah’s 2011 population was 2,813,923 — or 3,299 fewer people than the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The lower estimate will allow fewer future liquor permits, which have population-based quotas. UPEC also figured that a mere 4 percent of growth came from immigration.