Minorities will generate half of Utah’s population growth over the next 50 years — converting its young generations into more diverse groups by then, a new first-of-its-kind study projects.
Projections say 45% of Utah preschoolers will be minorities in 2065, as will 42% of schoolchildren. Among college-age adults, 41% are projected to be minority group members, along with 36% of all working-age Utahns. In comparison, 77% of older retirees then will be white.
Overall, 1 of every 3 Utahns in 2065 will be a minority — compared to the 1 of every 5 now, according to the study by the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
These findings mean, among other things, that the state should focus on education gaps now where minorities graduate at lower rates “or we will not end up with as an educated of a labor force as we otherwise would have,” said Pam Perlich, director of demographics at the institute.
She said this is the first study to project how minority groups will grow over time in Utah and was especially requested by state education officials.
While the exact timing of increasing diversity may be tricky to predict, “this trend of increasing diversity is ongoing and cumulative — and it is not reversible,” Perlich said. “So it’s just a matter of time.”
Some of the reasons behind that include that Utah’s strong economy is attracting more people from out of state, and they tend to be more diverse. Also, they tend to be young and in childbearing years, so they have more children. And many minority groups, such as Latinos, tend to have larger families. Meanwhile, aging whites are trending to have fewer kids.
“It’s all of the above,” Perlich said.
Since the Great Recession bottomed out in 2010, Utah’s economy emerged as one of the fastest growing in the nation. “So, we’re bringing people from all over the nation," she said. “And where the nation is more racially and ethnically diverse than Utah, that brings new diverse populations.”
Also, the state attracted a lot of international immigration in the 1990s and 2000s, especially from Latino countries. Their children are now having children. “Yes, we are attracting international source regions whose populations tend to value children and have children,” she said.
In short, “We expect that this trend of racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity to continue to sweep across the nation and Utah,” Perlich said.
Between 2015 and 2065, the study projects that Utah’s total population (now about 3 million) will grow to 5.83 million — an annual growth rate of 1.3%.
But it expects that whites will grow at only a 0.9% rate, increasing from 2.37 million to 3.8 million.
Minority groups all are projected to grow at faster rates.
Latinos — Utah’s largest minority group — are projected to grow at a rate of 2.3% annually, increasing from 409,165 to an estimated 1.26 million over the 50-year period. By 2065, estimates say they will comprise 22% of Utah’s population, up from the current 14%.
Utah’s Asian population will grow at 2.4% annually, increasing from 68,702 to 226,470. Blacks will grow as a population at an annual rate of 2.8%, from 31,200 to 124,730 people; Pacific Islanders will grow at a 1.9% rate, from 27,956 to 72,321; and American Indians will grow at 1.2%, from 28,775 to 51,740.
The population will not only become less white but also increasingly multiracial. The study predicts that people identifying themselves as “two or more races” will increase fivefold in 50 years to nearly 300,000 in 2065 — the highest growth rate among major race groups measured by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Even with the increase in diversity, minorities are still expected to have a smaller share of Utah’s population than they will in the overall national population.
While minorities are projected to provide half of Utah’s population growth, the U.S. Census Bureau figures minorities will provide almost all of the net growth nationally.
In the nation, the share of people who are minorities is expected to grow from one of every three to nearly two in three between 2010 and 2060.
Over the 50-year period, the new study projects that 75% of the growth in the preschool population will be from minorities, who will also provide 76% of the growth among school-age children, 66% for those college-age, and 54% for those working aged. But minorities will provide only 28% of the growth for the retirement-age population.
Correction: An early online version had incorrect percentages projected for population segments in 2065. The current version has corrected numbers.