SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Utah now has more than 2.9 million residents and is one of the fastest-growing states in the country, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The estimates released Monday show Utah’s population grew 1.6 percent over the past year, making it the second-fastest growing state.
The fastest-growing state is North Dakota, where an oil boom has been attracting job-seekers for several years. The population there grew 3.14 percent over the past year.
In recent years, Utah’s population growth was closer to 1.4 percent, University of Utah economist Pam Perlich said. That works out to about 46,000 new people, which is equivalent to the population of Murray city, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Utah’s population was 2,900,872 as of July 1, according to the census data.
The report did not indicate how much growth resulted from migration to Utah and how much was caused by births.
State demographer Juliette Tennert said Utah’s birth rate, the highest in the country, is likely one of the main drivers of the state’s growth.
Judging from birth and death trends, Perlich said, the net number of people who moved to Utah over the past year is around 10,000, Perlich said.
“It’s a pretty major indication that the recession has bottomed out here,” she said.
Before the recession, the net number of people moving to Utah every year was about 25,000 to 30,000.
Perlich said that when Utah gains new residents, it shows the state will be stable in the long-term.
“When people move here they are basically betting on us to be a good place with long-range possibilities,” she said. “People don’t just move because things would be good for six months. They move because they are betting their lives and future on a place.”