The U.S. Census Bureau Releases County Population Estimates for 2019

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

“Any time you have population growth, there are business opportunities.” Roland Dorson

Next year, actual counts from the decennial census will be available

Hopefully, all Utahns are taking a break from COVID-19 concerns to respond (by phone, online or by mail) to their 2020 Census questionnaires. Since the Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding are spent, accurate counts are important in order for Utah’s communities to get their “fair share.”

Because the actual counts are not yet available, the U.S. Census Bureau has just released the last set of population estimates for the decade. What do they show?

  • Iron County took the lead in population growth rates for 2019 — up by 4.1%. Following close behind was its neighbor, Washington County, with a growth rate of 3.5%.
  • Other fast-growing areas included counties at the edge of urban spread, such as Juab, Tooele and Wasatch.
  • Although Piute County saw an increase of only about 30 individuals, its small base population also resulted in a strong percentage increase (2.9%).
  • Utah County showed the highest percentage increase (2.4%) of the big-four Wasatch Front counties.
  • Estimates for both San Juan and Daggett counties suggested a decline in population, while Duchesne County’s population appeared to hold steady.
  • Utah County experienced the largest numeric gain in population — nearly 15,000 residents, followed by Salt Lake County (up about 12,000) and Washington County (up nearly 6,000).
  • Utah and Washington counties finished neck-and-neck in the race for net in-migration. Utah County’s net in-migration measured 5,200 compared to 5,100 for Washington County.
  • Several counties displayed net out-migration. Most notable on the list were Duchesne and San Juan counties. Daggett, Emery and Summit counties showed lesser out-migration estimates.
  • For its size, Utah County shows a relatively high number of births and a low number of deaths, placing its natural increase not far behind population-dense Salt Lake County.
  • Although Washington and Cache counties showed roughly equivalent numbers of births, deaths in Washington County measured much higher.
  • In 2019, Emery County experienced its first (albeit small) population growth in more than a decade.
  • Morgan County’s 2019 growth rate slipped below the state average for the first time this decade.
  • Wayne County saw its best population growth (1.5%) of the past 10 years in 2019.
  • Between 2010 and 2019, Wasatch County was the third fastest growing county in the nation. Washington County (St George, UT MSA) was the fifth fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States between 2010 and 2019. Its relatively small size contributes mathematically to a high growth rate. The Provo-Orem, UT MSA ranked ninth.

These aren’t the only estimates in town. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah has assembled the Utah Population Committee (UPC) to reinstitute the population-estimates work previously conducted by the Utah Population Estimates Committee (UPEC). These estimates can be found here.

U.S. Census Bureau estimates use the same methodology in producing population figures for every county in the nation. Therefore, for nationwide comparisons, U.S. Census Bureau estimates may have the advantage. On the other hand, UPC population estimates have the benefit of local-analyst expertise and additional data sources.