In 50 years, a more diverse Utah will look like today's US

In 50 years, a more diverse Utah will look like today's US

(Scott Taylor)

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SALT LAKE CITY — By the time today's preschoolers have grandchildren of their own, Utah's classrooms and workplaces will be significantly more diverse.

In 2065, the Beehive State will look more like the nation as a whole does today, a new state report projects. Slightly more than 1 in 3 Utahns will be racial and ethnic minorities, up from 1 in 5 in 2015, show the figures out Wednesday from the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

The projections create the most detailed forecast to date of Utah's changing face over the longterm, said Pamela Perlich, director of demographic research at the Gardner Institute.

They also illustrate an "irreversible" trend, Perlich said. "We've built institutions and policies and practices surrounding a demographic that really no longer exists. It is slowly changing into something else."

The report says minority groups, and mostly Hispanic Utahns, will fuel about half the growth over the half-century. Multiracial Utahns will play a big role, too, as the fastest-growing slice of the minority population.

The nation as a whole will still remain more diverse than the Beehive State, growing to about 56 percent minorities by 2060, up from a little more than 1/3 in 2010, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The numbers come as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a potential question on the 2020 survey about whether a person is an American citizen, a query that Perlich said would harm response rates in Utah, potentially throwing off the count.

If the question ultimately appears on the questionnaire next year, "we will have an underrepresentation of not just people who are undocumented, but the people who are in their communities," Perlich said. "Here you have the federal government asking you about you, the people in your house, the kids, grandma and grandpa, whoever else, and if you throw in the legal question — your status — the whole effort can be perceived in a completely different way."

Perlich, the state's top demographer, said the question would have an especially significant effect on the count in West Valley City — now home to more minorities than white people — plus other communities home to larger shares of new immigrants and people of color, like Ogden, Kearns and Copperton.

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The Supreme Court's ruling is expected before a June printing deadline for the forms, and the court's majority of conservative justices signaled Tuesday they would uphold the Trump Administration's plan to include the question.

The report released Wednesday finds that over the half-century, Utah's current population of 3.1 million will almost double, adding a new 2.8 million people by 2065, according to the estimates. Those moving from out of state will contribute more and more to the growth.

Like in the national picture, Utah's minority populations trend younger. For example, racial and ethnic minorities will make up 45 percent of Utah's preschool-age population in 2065, the analysis found, but just 23 percent of the share of retirement age Utahns.

Following the 2020 census count, Perlich and her team of demographers plan to pinpoint the diversity in greater detail, down to the county level. The projections draw on previous census data and existing population estimates from Perlich's team.

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