Latinos spur growth in Utah, represent growing share of state's population

Mili Silos performs a traditional dance at the Salt Lake City-County Building to mark Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15, 2021. The expansion of the Latino population has been key in Utah's growth and now represents 16% of Utah's overall population.

Mili Silos performs a traditional dance at the Salt Lake City-County Building to mark Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 15, 2021. The expansion of the Latino population has been key in Utah's growth and now represents 16% of Utah's overall population. (Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Latinos keep powering growth across Utah and in its most populated counties and represent a gradually increasing share of the state's overall population, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.

At the same time, the numbers of non-Hispanic whites — still representative of the vast majority of Utahns, about three-quarters of the total — are increasing at a slower rate as that group's share of Utah's overall population edges down.

Salt Lake County, Utah's largest, is a unique case in the state. The non-Hispanic white population has actually dropped by more than 21,000 since 2020, spurring an overall population decline, minimized only by increases in the Hispanic, Asian, Black and other minority populations.

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released a breakdown of population estimates for 2023 across the country by race and ethnicity and the figures show that on a national level, Hispanics accounted for the majority of growth in the nation between 2022 and 2023. The U.S. population increased by 1.64 million in the one-year period, according to the new estimates, and the Hispanic population went up by 1.16 million, representing nearly 71% of the total.

"The Hispanic population is expanding at a substantially faster rate than the non-Hispanic population, primarily due to natural increase, that is, more births than deaths," Kristie Wilder, a Census Bureau demographer, said in a statement. Of the 1.16 million Hispanic increase, 722,000 of the total represents a natural increase, births minus deaths, while immigration into the United States accounts for around 437,000 of the jump.

The state-level figures don't break down change brought on by natural increase or immigration. Nevertheless, Latino growth in Utah, though perhaps not as pronounced as the national level stats, has been strong, a continuing trend in the state, like many other places.

Statewide, the number of Latinos — the largest racial or ethnic group in Utah aside from non-Hispanic whites — increased by 17,714 between 2022 and 2023 to 546,948, up 3.3%, and now represent 16% of Utah's overall population of 3.42 million. The 16% share compares to 15.7% in 2022 and 15.1% in 2020. The 17,714 increase, meanwhile, represents 48.5% of Utah's overall population increase of 36,498 in the one-year period to 3.42 million.

In the same one-year period, the number of non-Hispanic whites in Utah increased by 10,105, a 0.4% rise, to 2.59 million. The group represents 75.7% of Utah's 2023 population, down from 76.2% in 2022 and 77.1% in 2020.

In Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties, Hispanic growth from 2022 to 2023 exceeded white, non-Hispanic growth, both numerically and in relative terms.

In Salt Lake County, the Latino population grew by 4,536, up 1.9%, and now represents 20.7% of the county's total population of 1.19 million. The white population fell by 8,206, a 1% dip. In Davis County, the Hispanic population grew by 1,971, 4.6%, and now represents 12% of the total population of 373,207. The white population went up by 330, 0.1%. In Weber County, the Hispanic population went up by 1,049, or 2%, and now represents 19.4% of the county's population of 271,926. The white population grew by 873, 0.4%.

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Growth of the Latino population in Utah's six largest counties — Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Washington and Cache counties — has outpaced growth of the white non-Hispanic population in percent terms since at least 2020. Latinos, as a result, represent a gradually growing share of the population in each county while non-Hispanic whites are a gradually diminishing share, same as on the state level.

Between 2020 and 2023:

  • The share of Latinos in Salt Lake County went from 19.6% of the population to 20.7% while the white population went from 69.6% of the total to 67.7%.
  • The share of Latinos in Utah County went from 13.4% to 14.6% while the white population went from 80.5% to 78.5%.
  • The share of Latinos in Davis County went from 10.8% to 12% while the white population went from 82.5% to 80.7%
  • The share of Latinos in Weber County went from 18.6% to 19.4% while the white population went from 75.7% to 74.6%.
  • The share of Latinos in Washington County went from 11.3% to 12.4% while the white population went from 83.3% to 81.9%.
  • The share of Latinos in Cache County went from 11.3% to 11.9% while the white population went from 83.2% to 82.2%.

Looking specifically at Salt Lake County's demographics in the 2020-2023 span, the number of non-Hispanic whites in the county declined by 21,567, down 2.6%. That dip was partially offset by increases in Latinos, up 12,305, 5.3%; Asians, up 3,438, 6.7%; and Blacks, up 1,670, 7.7%.

Looking statewide in the three-year period:

  • Utah's non-Hispanic white population went up by 56,546, a 2.2% increase.
  • The Hispanic population grew by 50,815, up 10.2%.
  • The Asian population increased by 8,544, up 10.3%.
  • The Black population went up by 4,347, up 11.3%.

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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