Mirroring the national flight to the suburbs, 1990 census figures show suburban Davis and Salt Lake counties booming, while the heart of the urban center is shrinking.

Official figures made public following a news conference in Washington, D.C., Thursday afternoon show that Davis County grew by 28.25 percent and Salt Lake County by 17.25 percent during the past decade.While places like Farmington, Layton, Bluffdale, West Jordan and South Jordan experienced breakneck growth, Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake - at the heart of the metropolitan area - experienced 1.9 and 2.72 percent declines in population between 1980 and 1990.

South Salt Lake Mayor Jim Davis said, "The reason we are down is the vacancy rate in apartments. We've made positive gains in single-family, owner-occupied homes and in getting younger families in the community. . . . I am not overly concerned about the figures, but we are disappointed. We thought our population would be around 15,000. I have done my part; I've got seven kids."

Mike Zuhl, Salt Lake City's chief administrator, said he and other officials are concerned about what now has become a 30-year trend of declining population in Utah's capital city, which the Census Bureau placed at 159,936.

"It's something we'd like to see turn around," he said. "It's a phenomenon we see all over the United States. Since the '60s, people have been leaving the core cities and moving to the suburbs."

Zuhl was relieved that the final figures are higher than the preliminary figures released in August. However, he's not certain the final figures are accurate.

"We had some concern about the figures but no concrete evidence that they were in error," he said.

In all, the Census Bureau counted 725,956 residents in Salt Lake County and 187,942 in Davis County. The state's 10 largest cities are: Salt Lake City, 159,936; West Valley City, 86,976; Provo, 86,835; Sandy, 75,058; Orem, 67,561; Ogden, 63,909; West Jordan, 42,892; Layton, 41,784; Bountiful, 36,659; Logan, 32,762.

In cities with more than 5,000 people in the two metropolitan counties, Farmington was the fastest-growing with a 78.35 percent increase in residents. Other large gains were made by Riverton, with a 60.14 percent boost, and Layton, with a 58.25 percent raise.

Although the figures released Thursday show a 78 percent growth rate for Farmington over the decade, City Manager Max Forbush said the rate is closer to 92 percent.

The city's population was pegged at 4,691 in 1980, not the 5,062 figure used by the Census Bureau, Forbush said. He agreed the 9,028 figure for 1990 is accurate, close to the 9,000 estimate the city was using for that year.

"That's substantial growth, especially if you look at it in light of the decade before that," Forbush said, quoting an 87 percent growth rate from 1970's population of 2,511.

Forbush said city officials believe Farmington's growth will taper off during the current decade as available lots within the city are utilized.

South Weber and Bluffdale were the fastest-growing cities of any size in the two counties.

South Weber had a 81.77 percent increase, and Bluffdale grew by 65.54 percent.

The increase doesn't surprise Bluffdale Mayor Lee G. Wanlass.

"We had done our own count, so we knew pretty much what to expect," Wanlass said, adding that the largest amount of growth of the past 10 years occurred during the past year.

The raw numbers for Bluffdale are still small - 2,152 - but Wanlass said the town expects accelerated growth during the next decade. The additional 852 residents will give Bluffdale a boost in revenue allocations, helping the community keep up with growing needs, Wanlass said.

The largest loser was Sunset in Davis County with a 10.55 percent decrease in residents.

State totals, released last month, placed the entire state population at 1.72 million, a 17.92 percent increase.

In West Jordan, where city officials had contested the preliminary census count of 42,261, the final tally of 42,892 was called "extremely disappointing," even though it represents a 56.96 percent increase over the 1980 figure.

City Manager John Hiskey said he and other city officials are convinced that West Jordan's population is closer to 50,000. The Census Bureau's decision to add only 631 to the earlier figure is even more disturbing because census officials had promised a "significant" change in the preliminary number, Hiskey added.

The difference between the census' number and the city's estimate is about 17 percent, which Hiskey said could adversely affect future revenues generated from population-based formulas such as those used to distribute state sales tax.

Sandy City officials also dispute figures that show their city with 75,058 people. City Planner George Shaw said his staff's initial estimate was closer to 80,000.

"We feel like we have housing counts to prove we're higher than 75,058," Shaw said. The city sent its number of houses to the Census Bureau, but it apparently made little difference.

- With reports from Deseret News staff writers JoAnn Jacobsen-Wells, Jay Evensen, Joe Costanzo and Don Rosebrock.

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GRAPHIC

Salt Lake/Davis population

Area 1990 1980 %change

SALT LAKE COUNTY

Salt Lake County 725,956 619,066 +17.27%

Alta 397 381 + 4.20%

Bluffdale 2,152 1,300 +65.54%

Draper 7,257 5,521 +31.44%

Midvale 11,886 10,146 +17.15%

Murray 31,282 25,750 +21.48%

Riverton 11,261 7,032 +60.14%

Salt Lake City 159,936 163,034 -1.9%

Sandy 75,058 52,210 +43.76%

South Jordan 12,220 7,492 +63.1%

South Salt Lake 10,129 10,413 -2.72%

West Jordan 42,892 27,327 +56.96%

West Valley City 86,9765 75,509 +19.95%

Unicorporated 274,510 235,951 +16.34%

DAVIS COUNTY

Davis County 187,941 146,540 +28.25%

Bountiful 36,659 32,877 +11.50%

Centerville 11,500 8,069 +42.52%

Clearfield 21,435 17,982 +19.20%

Clinton 7,945 5,777 +37.53%

Farmington 9,028 5,062 +78.35%

Fruit Heights 3,900 2,728 +42.96%

Kaysville 13,961 10,331 +35.14%

Layton 41,784 26,403 +58.25%

North Salt Lake 6,474 5,548 +16.69%

South Weber 2,863 1,575 +81.78%

Sunset 5,128 5,733 -10.55%

Syracuse 4,658 3,702 +25.82%

West Bountiful 4,477 3,556 +25.90%

West Point 4,258 2,170 +96.22%

Wood Cross 5,384 4,263 +26.30%

Unincorporated 8,487 10,764 -21.15%