Utah's high birthrate helped make the state the 10th fastest-growing in the nation, even though more people moved out than moved in during the past decade.
"It's pretty good news," state Demographic and Economic Analysis Director Brad Barber said Thursday. "We had fairly healthy population growth but still some out-migration for the decade."The 1,728,784 Utahns counted by the census represent an average annual growth rate of 1.7 percent over the past 10 years. That's not as robust as the 3.3 percent annual average growth rate measured in the 1970s.
"Energy was booming. Defense was booming. Everything was booming in those days," Barber said. The rapid pace set by the 1970s continued into the next decade, with a record number of people moving to Utah in 1980.
But by 1984, the economic boom had gone bust and there were thousands of more people leaving the state than were moving here. Known as out-migration, the trend is expected to continue for at least another year.
It was the state's high birthrate that kept the population from declining, Barber said, even though the fertility rate has dropped during the past decade from 3.12 babies born per woman to 2.5.
"If you look at the 10 fastest-growing states, we're the only state that grew entirely by natural increases - births minus deaths," he said.
Nevada, the nation's fastest-growing state with more than a 50 percent boost in population, and the other nine all experienced in-migration - more people coming than going.
State officials had predicted there would be about 6,000 more Utahns than counted by the census, but Barber said the 0.3 percent difference won't be disputed.
A preliminary count released by the federal government last August had found just 1,711,117 Utahns. Several communities challenged the figures, calling them much too low.
The census information released this week only includes state population totals. Population counts for cities and towns are expected to be made public next month.
There's already enough census data to know that Utah won't get an increase in the size of the state's congressional delegation, despite an 18.3 percent growth in population over the past decade.
But other states - Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia - lost seats in Congress.
Besides congressional representation, the census also determines a state's share of federal funds. The 1990 census shows Utah has .069 percent of the nearly 250 million people counted nationwide, up from .064 percent in 1980.
While the slight increase in the percentage of the nation's population residing in Utah may not sound like much, it means more federal tax dollars will return to the state.
"Our piece of the pie has grown. Not by a huge amount, but it's bigger," Barber said, adding that exactly how much more money that means for the state still has to be calculated.