SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Minorities are making up an increasingly larger percentage of Utah's increasingly large population.
Minorities now comprise about 15.7 percent of the state's population and accounted for nearly 40 percent of Utah's 5 percent population growth from April 1, 2000, to July 1, 2003, according to a population estimate released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
At the current growth rates, "Hispanics are going to easily approach 20 percent of the state's population by the 2010 census," Pamela Perlich, a senior analyst with the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said Wednesday.
"I go around and show these numbers, and people don't believe me. 'That can't be Utah,' they say. But the state has been forever changed. And as these groups continue to grow and get politically active, it will get people's attention," she said.
Salt Lake County's overall population grew by 2.9 percent during the three-year period to almost 925,000, according to the census figures. Minorities accounted for 92 percent of that growth, with Latinos alone accounting for almost 70 percent.
Salt Lake County had 191,429 minority residents, Utah County had 46,195 and Weber had 37, 876.
Neil Ashdown, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, said, "Most demographers agree that the Census Bureau is still undercounting (Latinos), so the impact is probably even greater than what is showing up in the data."
Utah long has had a high birth rate and the fertility rates of Latino women is a full percentage point higher than non-Latinos, Perlich said.
Combine that with the continued migration from Mexico, Central and South America, and Asia and Africa, and, she said, "It doesn't take long with those differential growth rates to see a change."
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)