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Utah economy

Where do all these people come from when they move to Utah?

Vinay Cardwell, president of Young Professionals Salt Lake City, poses for a portrait at The Shop co-working space in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Young, educated and diverse, newcomers are helping to change the face of Utah as they come largely from other western states.

About 133,000 people – the equivalent of more than half of Salt Lake City’s population – moved to Beehive state from 2014 to 2018, according to a new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

California contributed the most new faces, at about 18,000 – or 16.6% – the most of any state, followed by Texas at 7.2%; Idaho at 6.6% and Washington State at 5.3%. But the Golden State also received more people from Utah during the same period than anywhere else.

Where they moved from
Where they moved from (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

Demographer Emily Harris said her findings help answer questions about migration that have arisen in recent years as newcomers further fuel the state’s growth.

“We know Utah is growing. We can feel it on the roads, we can feel it on the trails,” Harris said. “But who are these people and what is that impact on Utah, other than more people?”

Analyzing census data, Harris found that those who moved here within the five-year period tend to be younger than those already here, with a median age of 25. They were also more diverse and more likely to have a bachelor’s degree.

Education levels vary
Education levels vary (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

Many end up rooting and raising their children in their own traditions, resulting in cumulative cultural change over time, Harris noted.

Among them, Vinay Cardwell, 42, from Vancouver, Canada, who attended the University of Utah, found work in the state’s growing tech sector, and started a family in the state. Beehive State. Her son and daughter are now 5 and 8 years old.

Cardwell, president of Young Professionals Salt Lake City, says he wants job seekers to know they can still feel at home in Utah if they’ve never been in the state and aren’t. not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Word is spreading, he said, as more newcomers arrive for jobs at tech startups and stay to ski, hike and take in mountain views.

“You go to New York and it’s just a concrete jungle – or Chicago. But when you can get out into the wild, it’s like, wow. You just get that rejuvenation,” he said. “This is probably one of the most important things people say when I ask them, ‘What brought you here?’ It’s skiing or the outdoors. “

Like Cardwell, whose parents are from Fiji and New Zealand, many are of mixed descent, he said.

Differences in diversity
Differences in diversity (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

The data doesn’t say who’s left for a little while before moving on, but Cardwell says many do after gaining a few years of work experience and taking advantage of the state’s vast outdoor recreation opportunities.

The rise in migration to the state after the Great Recession is linked to a strong economy and low unemployment, Harris said, and is playing a bigger role in Utah’s growth as families have less children and wait longer to do so, she added.

Jobs invite newcomers
Jobs invite newcomers (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

In what may come as a surprise to some, the Beehive State is not among the top 10 destinations for Californians, Harris noted. Almost three times as many people have moved to neighboring Nevada, for example.

Where the Utahns move
Where the Utahns travel (Photo: Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)

She found that fewer Utahns leave than they come – around 95,000 left in the same period, although the data does not reveal how many more went overseas. Their median age was 27, compared to 31 for the Utahns who stayed behind during the same period. Those who leave also tend to have a bachelor’s degree and higher degrees at higher rates.

The influx of newcomers, combined with the housing crisis in Utah, threatens to strain the rental and home buying markets and hamper Utah’s ability to attract workers out of state in the future, the report notes.

Who rents and who owns a house?
Who rents and who owns a house? (Photo: Kem C. Garder Policy Institute)

“When we have more migrants coming in than people leaving, it’s an even bigger hole that we dig ourselves into in terms of housing inventory for people who want to live here,” Harris said.

Not everyone who comes to Utah is an outsider. About 1 in 4 are native Utahns who have moved away for a while and are now coming home.

They’re like Steven O’Donnell, a 28-year-old father and real estate agent who lived in Albuquerque, San Diego, and Las Vegas before returning to Utah in 2019. The timeline for his move has accelerated after his move. dad. fell ill with cancer, succumbing to the disease about a month before the birth of O’Donnell’s baby girl.

The girl babbled this week as O’Donnell said he hit the road as a kid with his truck driver dad. He realized in his youth that he preferred the mountains and vast canyons of Utah to the scenery of any other state, he said.

“For my parents in Santaquin, there are three canyons in about 10 minutes,” he said. “I think Utah is just a hidden gem.”

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion