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Oil boom leads to huge growth for Duchesne County

Duchesne County is second-fastest growing; Vernal 6th-fastest among “micropolitan’’ areas.

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Expanding growth to the south could help address worsening air pollution in the basin, and spread out demand for housing and schools. Also, the coal-mining industry important to those southern counties is declining.

In fact, Carbon and Emery counties lost population last year.

At a glance

2013 population

» Duchesne County, up 5.5 percent, No. 2 in nation.

» Vernal micropolitan area, up 2.9 percent, No. 6 in nation.

» National average: 0.7 percent growth.

» Utah average: 1.6 percent growth.

Detailed numbers for all Utah counties, metropolitan and micopolitan areas available at sltrib.com

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Perlich said the new data show international immigration and births and deaths in Utah are flat — but domestic in-migration is up, especially in Davis, Utah and Salt Lake counties. She said they are showing slow, steady growth that is sustainable.

"Utah is on the move," she said.

Washington County is finally achieving significant net in-migration it had not seen since before the recession, she said.

But some areas with little or no in-migration are surprising, including in Cache and Iron counties.

Perlich guesses that lower Mormon missionary age limits may have led to fewer college students and changed migration in those college counties — or that an improving economy may see more people choosing jobs over school.

Another boom of sorts hit Heber City and Wasatch County.

Heber was the nation’s third fastest-growing micropolitan area — faster than even Vernal — and Wasatch was the nation’s seventh fastest-growing county.

It’s not oil, "but clean air and great views," Heber City Mayor Alan W. McDonald said. "It’s a great selling point."

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He says the area has become a distant suburb for Utah and Salt Lake counties. Perlich said it is also a cheaper housing area for people who work in Park City.

"A lot of people come from the valleys," McDonald said, "to try to get away from the smog and pollution and get to the open space."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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