Utah's youthful population puts it ahead of other Western states, but its lack of ethnic diversity could be a disadvantage, said Lt. Gov. Val Oveson of the findings contained in a Council of State Governments study on the region.

The trends cited in the 58-page report released last month by Westrends, a San Francisco-based regional arm of the private, non-profit council, are expected to help Western leaders plan for the future, Oveson said.Oveson, a member of Westrends, and Westrends President Daniel M. Sprague spoke Wednesday at a Capitol news conference about what sets the West apart from the rest of the United States.

The report noted that the West is the nation's fastest-growing region, with a 15.1 percent increase in population between 1980 and 1987. During that same period, the number of Utahns fell by 2,000 due to the state's sagging economy.

But a fact well-known by many Utahns is the state's high birthrate. Utah is second only to Alaska in the West in the number of births per 1,000 population, with 23.4 in 1985, according to the report.

And Utah leads the region in the percentage of its population under the age of 5, with 11.8 percent in 1985, the report said. Oveson said that with the proper training, the state's young will grow into a valuable labor force.

The report also found that the West leads the nation in legal immigration for the 10 years ending in 1985. The region is home to the nation's greatest concentration of Hispanics and Asians.

The region, which has the nation's smallest percentage of blacks, also experienced the largest increase of any region in the number of black residents between 1970 and 1980, the report found.