More people now move to Salt Lake County from Asia each year than from nearby Weber County, new U.S. Census Bureau estimates show.
That’s not all. More move here from South America than Utah’s Cache or Washington counties. And more come from Central America than adjacent Tooele or Summit counties.
That shows the county’s “universities and jobs are a magnet not only for the state and nation, but the world,” said Pam Perlich, senior demographer at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
The Census Bureau released estimates Thursday from its large American Community Survey that show mobility between counties nationally, plus other major regions of the world.
Most people tend to move to or from counties near them. But Asia, South America and Central America are among the Top 10 areas producing move-ins to Salt Lake County.
Asia ranked No. 3 behind adjacent Utah and Davis counties — providing 3,041 new move-ins per typical year between 2013 and 2017. That was about double the typical 1,548 new move-ins annually coming from No. 5 Weber County.
Perlich said universities, high-tech companies and a growing financial center downtown with companies such as Goldman Sachs “is bringing a significant migration from Asia. You will recall that Asia is now the main source region for immigrants for the entire nation. It’s no longer Latin America.”
Still, South America ranks No. 5 as a source for move-ins for Salt Lake County, with an estimated 1,376 in a typical year. And Central America ranks No. 9 with 1,222 annually.
Perlich said she’s not surprised at that because of the strong “generational migration circuits between here and Central America — particularly Mexico — particularly in the construction trades where we’ve got so much construction going on.”
She added that recent data shows Utah leads the nation in job creation, and “Salt Lake County is the economic heart of the state ... . We’re on our way to becoming a very big city. And these international flows to the central core of our economic part of our state make perfect sense.”
Emily Harris, another demographer at the Garner Institute, wrote a soon-to-be released study about how age affects county-to-county migration in Utah. She said it shows that most people moving to Salt Lake County are younger than age 35.
“A lot of people come out of college and have their first job in Salt Lake County because there’s so many economic opportunities,” she said.
Perlich adds, “We’re becoming the center of a major global, large metropolitan area. And who likes to live in those kinds of places? Young people.”
Harris said her research also shows that most people who move out of Salt Lake County are older than 35. “They have families and move to the ring counties” where housing is cheaper.
So, not surprisingly, the top destination counties for Salt Lakers who move are Utah County (8,640 move-outs annually), Davis (5,803) and Tooele County (2,394).
Many nearby counties receive more people from Salt Lake County than they have people who move to it — showing the importance of international migration to growth and filling jobs in Salt Lake County.
For example, Davis County had a net of 1,548 more Salt Lakers move to it than from it in a typical year; Utah County had a net of 287; and Weber, 171.
Still overall, Salt Lake County received more people than it lost from those moving away: 61,458 move-ins compared to 54,950 in a typical year, a net increase of 6,508.
New data shows that Salt Lake County typically had at least some new move-ins every year from every state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — and 479 counties. Some also came every year from Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, Oceania and the Caribbean.
Perlich said a sign of that is seen at a parking lot near her office during weekly orientations for new university employees. “Every week, the license plates always come from all around the country.”