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2019 Census Data Places Summit County In Heber Micropolitan Area

Kem C Gardner Institute

Using the 10-year Census as a starting point, the U.S. Census Bureau also does yearly estimations to project populations. The bureau’s annual data includes some interesting finds including classifying Summit and Wasatch Counties as part of the Heber City micropolitan area.

Pam Perlich is the Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah. The institute collects their own population projections as well as advises the U.S. Census Bureau with their projections. Utah is made up of five metropolitan areas with at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants. The state also has four micropolitan areas made up of one urbanized population between 10,000 and 50,000. Perlich explained there’s been an interesting change just this year made to the Heber City micropolitan area.

“We’ve got a combination now of Summit County and Wasatch County into one micropolitan statistical area,” Perlich said. “We’re calling it Heber which is kind of interesting. That designation comes from observed linkages between the two counties.”

The connection is based largely on commuting as well as economic ties which has grown over the past three decades, the designation from the Census Bureau reflect those growing trends.

Over the past decade, Wasatch County is the third fastest growing county in the nation for percentage growth. A counted base of 23,525 people in the county in 2010 has become an estimated 34,091 in 2019, for a 44.9% growth. Perlich says that growth is caused by the metropolitan growth in the urban Salt Lake and Utah counties areas which is pushing growth into the outer rings touching the metropolitan area.

“It’s quality of life, the incredible vistas, accessibility to remarkable recreational opportunities,” Perlich continued. “It's that better home that you can get for the dollar than what you can get in the Metropolitan area. So, it's this expanding, metropolitan footprint that Wasatch County now is absorbing some considerable growth for the entire state, and Summit County is not.”

Wasatch County saw a 3.1% growth from 2018 to 2019, with 70% of that growth coming from net migration, calculated by comparing number of move-ins and those that moved away.

Meanwhile Summit county saw a .6% growth rate over the year with no-net migration growth. All of Summit Counties modest growth came from natural increase measured by comparing birth rates against death rates.

“People are not moving into Summit County on net,” Perlich explained. “Then, if we look at the natural increase for Summit County, that's the number of births minus the number of deaths, it’s 257. That's a very small number. Median age in Summit County is a little higher so you tend to have, on a per capita basis a few more deaths as a result. The residential growth in Summit Count, the big burst we saw there, was really in the run up to the Winter Olympic Games. The 1990’s, is where you see that big sort of exponential takeoff growth in Summit County. The rate of growth has really flattened there.”

Of course, many residents of the Wasatch Back will not be surprised by the numbers backing what they’ve seen for the past decade. Perlich explained why it's critical for Summit and Wasatch County residents to be counted during this year’s census.

“Each one of those enumerated people and households brings a greater political representation, a greater share of state funding, greater share of federal funding,” Perlich said. “Then a more accurate understanding. How many people are there? How many households? How many school kids? How many older folks? The basis of what we plan for services, programs, businesses, look to these data to understand when there's a sufficient population there to invest in the community. All of that is based on an understanding of this population count.”

Perlich also noted that as growth is forecasted for the future it’s important that residents plan ahead and manage growth to preserve important places and community culture. Heber City Council recently passed an updated city general plan with a vision to manage future growth.

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