Long Term Population Projections: Utah will get Grayer

320px-Main_Street_&_300_South,_Salt_Lake_City_-_August_13,_2011Utah’s population is expected to get larger and much older over the next 50 years, according to a newly-released report from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Utah’s growth rate from 2015 to 2060 of 76.6% is projected to far outpace the national growth rate of 30.8. The institute is predicting that the Beehive State’s current population of three million will reach 4 million in 2034, 5 million in 2054, and 5.5 million in 2065.

This projected growth is due to two main reasons: Though fertility rates are expected to drop from 2.31 to 2.28 children per mother, this rate will still place Utah above the national average; in addition, over the next 50 years, life expectancy is to increase 4.5 years for women and 7.1 years for men.

This natural increase (births minus deaths) is expected to account for 66% of total population growth in the Beehive state by 2065. According to the report, migration into the state will account for 34 percent of the remaining growth as projections show a natural increase and net migration rates.

“We cannot forecast the future. Rather, our intent is to provide a reliable and comprehensible framework for a reasonable range of likely alternative demographic futures for Utah…even though we cannot exactly predict the future (especially as uncertainty increases over time), this work permits us to identify reasonable bounds for the shape of Utah’s future demographic landscape,” the report states.

Utah’s median age is expected to rise nearly nine years from 30.8 years in 2015 to 39.5 years in 2065. At this rate, seniors are projected to outnumber schoolchildren by 2065. As Millenials and Gen x’ers start to age, we expect to see the 65 and older population double, increasing from 10.2% of the population in 2015 to 21.3% in 50 years. In fact, the number of Utah centenarians (people 100 years of age or older) is also expected to skyrocket, with 337 centenarians in 2015, 6,844 centenarians are projected to call Utah home in 2065.

While the total number of households are expected to grow, the average number of people per household is set to decrease from 2.99 in 2015 to 2.52 in 2065. Employment growth is projected to increase in each of the 11 major industries, except for military, utilities, and farming. Professional and business services are set to experience the most rapid growth among major industries. The median age of Utah’s labor force is projected to rise by nearly five years, increasing from 37.8 years in 2015 to 42.1 years in 2065.

“Similar to the rest of the United States, death and birth rates will likely continue to decline. Improved personal and public health measures can keep an ever-increasing number of people alive into their 100s, and there are several reasons to suspect changing economic and social patterns will continue to lower birth rates in Utah and the United States…Economic growth is projected to decelerate and, consequently, population growth rates will most likely decline, consistent with patterns observed throughout most the developed world,” the report concluded.

The institute is set to produce the state’s official long-term state and county-level projections by July 2017.

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