SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah is breaking down where people are coming from when they move to Utah, and where Utahns are moving to when they leave the Beehive State.
Spoiler Alert: People are coming to Utah from all over the west.
Utah’s population has been on a steady increase for years. According to estimates from the Utah Population Committee, Utah’s population has grown by nearly 120,000 people between 2020 and 2022. This includes natural growth and a net gain of residents from migration.
“Migration represents an increasingly important contributor to Utah’s population growth as fertility rates and births decline,” wrote the report’s authors, Emily Harris and Heidi Prior. “When a county grows rapidly, it’s almost certainly due to high levels of net in-migration.”
While California has long been blamed for Utah’s population growth, new research is showing Nevada, Arizona, and Washington are playing a large role as well.
According to the report outlining Utah’s out-of-state migration, six of the top 10 counties sending the most people to Utah are still in California. Los Angeles County tops the California list, sending more than 3,700 annual migrants to Utah. Los Angeles County, however, only sends the third most migrants to Utah.
Clark County in Nevada and Maricopa County in Arizona – homes to Las Vegas and Phoenix, respectively – are the top two counties to send new residents to Utah. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015 to 2019, Clark County has sent 3,916 annual migrants to the Beehive State while Maricopa County has sent 3,730.
King County in Washington (2,273) and Madison County in Idaho (2,098) round out the top five counties. California counties fill out the remaining five counties to make up the top 10 list.
More than 60% of the out-of-state movers have settled in Salt Lake County or Utah County, according to the report, though a large flow of migrants has also found new homes in Davis and Weber counties.
Just as many from the western states are finding their way into Utah, many Utahns are spreading into the western states.
The University of Utah research shows Utahns prefer to leave for Maricopa County, with an estimated 5,580 annual migrants to Arizona. Clark County is another destination hotspot for Utahns with 3,733 annual migrants. The report shows Utahns also leave for King County (1,822), Los Angeles County (1,617) and Idaho’s Ada County (1,223).
The report’s authors note that interstate migration is only a piece of a county’s growth in population. Many residents migrate within a state, from county to county.
According to in-state migration data, Utah County and Salt Lake County have the highest in-state migration levels with more than 10,000 residents traveling in each direction each year. Tooele County saw the highest in-state migration growth with a yearly net gain of roughly 2,077 residents from other Utah counties between 2015 and 2019.
Emily Harris and Heidi Prior wrote that counties across the state experience unique balances of in and out migration, flowing from both other states and neighboring counties. They noted that it’s a complex migration network that connects Utah counties with each other and other counties throughout the nation. As Utah grows, its future population will continue to be shaped by in-state, out-of-state, and international migration.
More details and the full report can be found here.