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One in five Utahns move each year

Published March 28, 2012 7:15 pm

Census • Immigrants come from around the globe.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A newly emerging statistic should make U-Haul happy — and maybe international airlines, too.

About one of every five Utahns changes residences in a given year. While most stay in — or come from — nearby areas, new arrivals also come from virtually every part of the planet.

That's according to five-year survey data, for 2005-10, released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau about migration between counties. The data also show which specific moves between counties in Utah are the most common.

"Most every year we have seen net in-migration into the state from all over the country and all over the world," said state demographer Juliette Tennert. She said Utah has been a magnet for immigrants because its economy has been stronger than surrounding areas even during the recession.

Pam Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah, says immigration from around the world has changed Utah so that a majority of children here now are members of ethnic minorities, and speak a total of 129 different languages at home. She says that may help Utah compete in the global economy.

The Census Bureau combined fives years of data from its American Community Survey to show how many people migrate from one county to another in a year.

Analysis of it by The Salt Lake Tribune shows that about 19 percent of Utahns typically moved each year during the period.

"Americans historically have itchy feet, and are known for constantly moving," Perlich said. However, she added other national studies focusing on periods after the recession began to report that mobility has reached a 20-year low, but is still high compared to most countries. The five-year Census data includes years both before and during the recession.

Among Utahns who say they moved in the past year, the data also show that about 59 percent remained within their home county. Another 19 percent stayed within Utah, but moved to another county.

Another 20 percent moved from another state. And about 4 percent moved in from abroad. Data show that people reported moving to Utah from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Africa, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Pacific islands and other areas of North and South America.

Perlich said much of the international immigration in that 2005-10 period came from students at universities, refugees and immigrants seeking work. She said part of the numbers also come from LDS missionaries returning from abroad, and are not true immigration.

But residents coming from all over the world, she said, are "Utah's connection to the global economy. It is one of the things that will determine if we are successful in the next century."

But most moves are local, or to nearby counties. Perlich said that comes as people start households when married, and seek to stay close to parents. Many movers are young university students going to counties with colleges.

Tennert said most moves are local because people tend to stay close to current jobs, family and friends.

The most common county-to-county shift was for people moving from Utah County to Salt Lake County — about 6,448 a year. Almost as many reversed directions and went from Salt Lake County to Utah County, about 6,353 a year.

"Northern Utah County and southern Salt Lake County are really the epicenters of growth in the state," Perlich said.

Among people moving out of Utah's 29 counties, Salt Lake County was the most common destination for people from seven of those counties, while Utah County was the most common destination for six.