Tooele is Utah’s fastest growing county. Here’s why, and what that means.

The Salt Lake City bedroom community is working to become a destination in its own right.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) New homes under construction in Tooele County on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.

Tooele was Utah’s fastest growing county last year, but the area is experiencing some growing pangs.

An inordinate number of people leave the county every day for work, which officials say means there aren’t enough local jobs to entice folks to stay. When there aren’t enough businesses, tax revenue suffers. And so do local schools and other public resources.

[Read more: Utah’s fastest growing county empties out most mornings. Leaders are trying to change that.]

Officials are working to find solutions to bring in more business, improve transit infrastructure and build more homes and schools so people can live, work and recreate in the county, said Jared Stewart, Tooele City’s economic development director.

But it’s not easy work.

Officials also need to find a way to supply all those people with water — quite the task in a county situated along some of the state’s driest terrain that currently dispenses water from wells sourced by aquifers that have a limited, dwindling supply.

“One of the great pressures we have is that there’s a finite amount of land in Weber, Davis and Salt Lake counties, so we are the natural spillover,” Tooele County councilman Scott Wardle said, “and to meet the economic demands for economic growth … we have to develop water resources that will be sustainable in the next 50 years.”

Here’s a breakdown of recent Tooele County facts and figures:

Size and population

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Size: 6,942 square acres

Population (2010): 58,218

Population (current): 72,698

Population (projected, 2060): Approximately 149,000

2021-2022 growth rate: 4.2%

Largest city, population: Tooele City, 35,742

Biggest population driver: Net migration — people moving from within Utah

Enrolled student population, ages 3 and older (2012): 18,671

Enrolled student population, ages 3 and older (2022): 25,574

Traffic, transportation and jobs

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Number of residents commuting out of the county (2020): 27,586

Average commute time: 29 minutes

Workers 16 and older who drive alone to work: 27,159

Workers 16 and older who carpool to work: 4,882

Number of employer establishments (2021): 1,068

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey; Economic Survey; University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute