It's official. The Salt Lake City-Ogden metropolitan area is now counted in the big league - urban centers with more than 1 million people.

The population in the metropolitan area is 1,072,748, ranking it 38th among the 39 big-leaguers, according to new Census Bureau figures.Data collected in the 1990 Census also put Charlotte, N.C.; Orlando, Fla; and Rochester, N.Y., on the list for the first time.

Salt Lake City-Ogden grew by 17.8 percent, up from 910,222 in 1980. It also climbed from a rank of 41. Utah's other metro area, Provo-Orem, jumped up in the rankings from the 134th-largest metro area to 128th. The area now has 263,590 people, an increase of 20.9 percent during the decade.

The federal government defines a metropolitan area as a core city of 50,000 or more surrounded by largely urban counties with strong economic links to the central area. The Census Bureau counts Davis, Salt Lake and Weber counties as part of the Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area. All of Utah County is counted in the Provo-Orem metro area.

Both of Utah's metro areas were in the middle of the pack for growth but had greater population increases than other areas in America's heartland. Interior metro areas grew by an average of 8.6 percent.

Those located within 100 miles of the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf of Mexico grew by more than 14 percent in the 1980s.

New York and nearby areas remained the largest urban center, with 18.1 million people, a growth of 3.1 percent from 1980.

Greater Los Angeles ranked second at 14.5 million, up from 11.5 million in 1980 for a 26 percent gain.

The Chicago area was third at 8.1 million, a slim increase from 7.9 million in 1980.

San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and their suburbs grew by 16.5 percent to 6.3 million and took fourth place from Philadelphia.

Among urban centers in the region, Denver grew at a slower rate of 14.2 percent. Greater Las Vegas, at a growth rate of 60.1 percent, was the fourth-fastest-growing metro area in the nation. The 1990 Census shows that area now has 741,459 people.

The population of greater Phoenix grew by 40.6 percent to 2.1 million.

Boise, which has experienced a boom during the latter half of the decade, grew at a faster pace than Salt Lake City-Ogden at 18.9 percent. Casper, Wyo., lost 14.8 percent of its population during the 1980s.

The new numbers show the trend of urbanization in America has continued to the point where more Americans now live in the 1 million-plus urban centers than in smaller cities and rural locales, the 1990 Census shows.

Four decades ago, there were only 14 metro areas with more than 1 million people. Just under 30 percent, or 44.9 million people, lived in these large urban centers then. Today, 124.8 million live in these mega-cities.

In all, 192 million or 77.5 percent of Americans live in 284 federally designated metro areas.

Since 1980, Utah's metro population grew from 77.2 percent to 77.6 percent of total state population.

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(Chart)

The big leagues

Metro areas with more than 1 million people:

1. New York

2. Los Angeles

3. Chicago

4. San Francisco

5. Philadelphia

5. Detroit

6. Boston

7. Washington, D.C.

8. Dallas

9. Houston

10. Miami

38. Salt Lake City

Source: U.S. Census Bureau