Utah's minority population grew by 37 percent the past decade, but races other than Caucasian still make up less than 9 percent of the state's population, census figures say.

The new figures were delivered to Gov. Norm Bangerter and state agencies Tuesday by the federal Census Bureau, almost a month ahead of the April 1 deadline.The minority population grew twice as fast as Utah's white majority since the last census was taken in 1980. Eliminating double-counting caused by those claiming Hispanic origin, the state's population of blacks, Asians, American Indians and other races grew by 41,000 in 10 years and now makes up 8.8 percent of Utah's population, the state Office of Planning and Budget said.

State officials attribute the growth to high birth rates among minorities and increased immigration to Utah because of career relocations, affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a desire to escape economic and political trouble in their native countries.

But the growth didn't make much of a dent in the proportion of minorities to the state's dominant white population, which grew 17 percent in the past 10 years.

"Minorities are becoming more important, but Utah still has a lower percentage than the nation as a whole and compared to a lot of other states," said Brad Barber, state director of demographic and economic analysis.

Twenty-seven percent of the nation's population is made up of minorities, Barber said. In 1980, minorities accounted for 7.6 percent of Utah's population.

Representatives of the state's minority affairs groups weren't surprised by the growth. But some said they expected the numbers of their respective groups to be higher.


"We thought the figures would be closer to 15,000. I know that last time they didn't count military personnel, and Utah has a large population of blacks in military installations," said Betty Sawyer, director of the state's Black Affairs Office.

Sawyer believes the state's black population grew more than the census's 2,351 figure. But she acknowledged that despite efforts to promote participation in the census survey, quite a few blacks did not fill out and send in the forms.

But the census still gives Sawyer's office a better idea of the black population to help her develop programs that meet the black community's needs.

The largest concentrations of black people were in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties. Sawyer attributed this to career transfers from other states to Hill Air Force Base near Ogden and to businesses along the Wasatch Front.

American Indians

The 24,283 total population was more than the state Division of Indian Affairs expected.

"But it doesn't shock me," Director John Powless said.

He said the 26 percent increase in Utah's Indian population is because of a high birth rate, resulting in as much as 60 percent of the Indian community being 21 years old or younger. Only 5 percent of Indians are older than 55.

Almost half of the state's Indians live along the Wasatch Front, census figures show. Powless said unemployment as high as 67 percent on the Ute Reservation forces Indians to live in Salt Lake City and other areas where jobs can be found.

Asians and Pacific Islanders

This group by far experienced the highest growth - 121 percent - of any other during the past decade. But Barber said the high rate could be adjusted down because in 1980 some of the Asian nationalities were listed under the "other races" category.

"Even so there was phenomenal growth in this category with a large influx of Tongans and Vietnamese," he said.

Lou Tong, director of the state's Asian Affairs Office, said Tongans and other Polynesian groups have flocked to Utah to join their families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He said many Pacific Islanders have moved to Utah from California.

Utah's designation as a port of entry for Vietnamese refugees during the 1980s also contributed to the Asian population growth. Other nationalities with a larger presence in Utah are Mandarin-speaking Chinese and citizens of Taiwan, where economic growth has given those people the means to immigrate to the United States.


This category is considered an ethnic group rather than a race, which means a member of any race could claim Hispanic origin, census officials said.

A majority of Hispanics indicated they were Caucasian, while others checked off various racial backgrounds.

Despite 40 percent growth of the Hispanic community in the past 10 years, Ruben Jimenez, director of the state's Hispanic Affairs Office, said he believes census totals could be off as much as 15,000.

The majority of uncounted Hispanics are either undocumented or legal migrant workers. "There are a lot of them floating around, but there is no way of knowing exactly how many," Jimenez said.

He attributed the population growth to a high birth rate and to new residents moving in from neighboring states as well as Latin American countries. The LDS Church community attracts some Hispanics, he said, while an opportunity to escape economic and political problems in native lands attracts others to Utah.

"It's wonderful that this country gives people that opportunity," Jimenez said.

Chart\ Utah's population\

Races in Utah

1990 1980 Number Percent

Number Percent Number Percent Change Change

Total population 1,722,850 100.0 1,461,037 100.0 261,813 17.9

White 1,615,845 93.8 1,382,550 94.6 233,295 16.9

Black 11,576 0.7 9,225 0.6 2,351 25.5

Amer. Indian, Eskimo,

or Aleut 24,283 1.4 19,256 1.3 5,027 26.1

Asian or Pacific Is. 33,371 1.9 *15,076 1.0 18,295 121.4 Other race 37,775 2.2 34,930 2.4 2,845 8.1

Hispanic origin** 84,597 4.9 60,302 4.1 24,295 40.3

**Hispanic classification is considered an ethnic group, members of which can be of any race.


The population counts are subject to correction. The U.S Department of Commerce is considering whether to correct these counts and will publish corrected counts, no later than July 15, 1991.


Total Am. Other Hispanic

Rank Place population White Black Indian* Asian** Race Origin

1 Salt Lake City 159,939 139,177 2,752 2,541 7,566 7,900 15,508

2 W. Valley City 86,976 79,016 737 957 3,446 2,820 6,212

3 Provo 86,835 81,683 229 929 2,374 1,620 3,623

4 Sandy 75,058 72,846 140 232 1,271 569 1,906

5 Orem 67,561 65,121 88 534 1,041 777 2,040

6 Ogden 63,909 55,885 1,741 687 1,123 4,473 7,669

7 West Jordan 42,892 40,324 121 272 825 1,350 2,784

8 Layton 41,784 38,727 864 278 965 950 2,350

9 Bountiful 36,659 36,012 35 100 347 165 588

**Hispanic classification is considered an ethnic group, members of which can be of any race.

* Includes Eskimos and Aleuts **Includes Pacific Islanders