Census data: Utah’s new top 10 most-populated cities — and other emerging places

A house under construction in Sandy is pictured on Wednesday May 5, 2021. Sandy remains the sixth largest city in Utah according to the 2020 census. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News.)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Census Bureau finally released raw data from the 2020 census on Thursday after months of delays related to ensuring the accuracy of information gathered over the past year.

While the data will be used over the coming months to help Utah – and every other state – create new congressional district boundaries and blackboards, the data released this week also offers incredible insights into Utah’s growth and how it compares nationally.

This includes patterns related to age and ethnicity of residents, as well as a look at new population patterns in the state. For example, Wasatch County not only led the state in percentage growth, it also ranked seventh out of 3,138 U.S. counties.

The data also provides a new order for the state’s 10 most populous cities, showing which will be allowed to chat in 2030.

The new order of the top 10 cities in Utah

All 10 most populous cities of 2010 stay in the top 10 again, but there have been some shifts.

Salt Lake City remains the most populous city in Utah. It gained 13,283 people – a 7% increase from 2010 – and reached a population of 199,723 in 2020. That’s nearly 60,000 more than Utah’s second largest city: West Valley City.

West Bank, with 116,961 inhabitants, surpassed Provo and became Utah’s third largest city. That means Salt Lake County is now home to the three most populous cities in Beehive State.

Provo, which has 115,162 residents, has still gained 2,674 people over the past decade, but that growth – a 2% increase – was not up to the 13% population jump of West Jordan. West Bank has gained over 13,000 residents since 2010.

Orem, still the fifth largest city with a population of 98,129, also saw a much larger population growth than its neighbor Provo. It gained 9,801 residents, an 11% increase from the previous census.

Utah's top 10 most populous cities according to the 2020 census. The numbers in parentheses indicate a change in ranking from 2010 onwards.Utah’s top 10 most populous cities according to the 2020 census. The numbers in brackets indicate a change in ranking from 2010. (Photo: KSL.com)

The other change in order was at No. 7. St. George passed Ogden as its population continued to grow. The southern Utah city has gained 22,445 residents over the past decade, a 31% increase while the population of Ogden has only increased 5%, or a total of 4,496 people.

The Census Bureau also named the St. George metropolitan area the third fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States behind The Villages in Florida and the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown region in Texas.

South Jordan topped all of the top 10 cities in Utah and also landed in the top 10 fastest growing cities in the US, which had at least 50,000 residents in 2010 but has not yet risen to the Utah population list. It has gained 27,069 people over the past decade – a 54% increase – and its population is now 77,487.

From the outside – for now

One reason the top 10 haven’t changed much is because new cities and towns are absorbing Utah’s leading population growth. Places like Lehi and Herriman are now officially cities as defined by the US Census. Both have exceeded 50,000 people in the past decade.

The Census Bureau reported significant population growth for both cities from the emerging Point of the Mountain region. Lehi has gained 28,500 people over the past decade, and its 60% growth has moved its population to 75,907 and just outside the top 10.

Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured on Wednesday.  Lehi's population has grown by over 28,000 in the past decade and is just off the list of the state's 10 most populous cities.Apartments and townhouses on Traverse Mountain Boulevard in Lehi are pictured on Wednesday. Lehi’s population has grown by over 28,000 in the past decade and is just off the list of the state’s 10 most populous cities. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Herriman, which has grown 153%, has gained the most of any township in the state over the past decade. With 33,359 new additions, the population is now 55,144. To put that growth in context, its absolute change over the past 10 years is slightly more than the total American Fork population.

Other fast growing communities in Utah

No community in Utah has grown like Vineyard. It jumped an astonishing 8.924% between censuses. This is because there were just 139 inhabitants in 2010 before the site of the old Geneva steelworks was opened for new developments.

It is now listed with a population of 12,543. It rose from the penultimate populated parish in Utah County in 2010 to 13th out of 32 Utah County parishes in 2020, beating places like Cedar Hills, Lindon, and Salem in terms of total population.

We grow so differently from other communities and we need the flexibility of the state to grow so that we can best meet the needs of our communities.

–Weinberg Mayor Julie Fullmer

In a series of text messages on KSL.com on Friday, Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer said that a sudden increase in population in such a short amount of time means that many infrastructure projects are required to keep up with the growth. Vineyard has been working to modernize its power grid and water storage system, add roads and overpasses, and the city is set to welcome the first new FrontRunner station in the state in nearly a decade.

“We grow so differently from other communities and need the flexibility of the state to grow so that we can best meet the needs of our communities,” she said. “We are looking for water, finite resource conservation, expansion of our industrial parks and find additional ways to connect people with places and technologies through proper planning.”

Still, she and other city officials believe Vineyard has been undervalued. Fullmer stated that there are many college students who would otherwise live in Vineyard but likely went home during the COVID-19 pandemic. She believes this, and the inability of the Census Bureau staff to advertise door-to-door as they normally would in a non-pandemic year, turned out lower than expected. The city estimates its population at just over 19,000.

Utah County had other major growers besides Lehi and Vineyard. Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs each won nearly 20,000. Eagle Mountain is now on the cusp of this city status of 50,000 people after its 104% growth doubling its population over the past decade to 43,623.

The population of Saratoga Springs increased by 19,915 to 37,696. All of these areas in the Provo-Orem metropolitan area helped make it the sixth fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States over the past decade, according to the Census Bureau.

Then there is Wasatch County, which borders Utah County to the east. In addition to being the seventh fastest growing district in the United States, Heber City also had the fifth fastest growing micropolitical area in the country for the past decade. The micropolitical sector has grown by 29% since 2010.

Heber City, Hideout, Midway, and Timber Lakes all grew at least 40% from 2010. Heber City now has 16,856 residents.

Meanwhile, Washington County isn’t home to the only growth in southern Utah. Cedar City in Iron County also landed in the top 10 growing micropolitania in the United States for the past decade. The city itself grew by 6,378 inhabitants to 35,235 – an increase of 22%. An additional 1,571 people joined near Enoch, an increase of 27%.

Contribute: Annie Knox, KSL.com

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