While following a national trend toward smaller households, Utah maintains the highest average number of people per household in the United States, a Census Bureau report says.

The average number of persons per household in the state declined slightly from 3.20 to 3.17 from 1980 to 1988. Nationwide, that number declined from 2.75 to 2.62 in the same period."When you look at the rest of the nation, we are clearly a significant anomaly. It is significant that we are a factor above everybody else," said Jim Robson of the Utah Office of Planning and Budget.

Robson noted the wide margin between Utah households and the next highest state - Hawaii. Hawaii has 2.99 people and Alaska is third with 2.85 people. The District of Columbia has the lowest with 2.35 per household. Oregon and Florida are next lowest with 2.46 people per household.

"Generally, we have followed the national trend. The baby boomers have had a big impact. As they get into their 40s, the household formations drop off because they won't be continuing to have as many children," Robson said. "We have always had pretty good household sizes because we have one of the top birthrates in the nation. We have noticed in the 1980s that the fertility rate is dropping . . . It is hard to say how far it will go down."

From 1980 to 1988, Utah strayed from a related trend as it experienced population growth that kept closer pace with household growth. Nationally, the number of households grew by 13.9 percent, outpacing population which grew by 8.5 percent.

In Utah, households grew by 16.9 percent and population grew by 15.7 percent, the Census Bureau reports.

The number of households increased by 75,000 from 449,000 to 524,000 in Utah during the eight years. Population estimates show the number of Utahn's grew by 229,000 in that same period of time to about 1.69 million.

Growth was concentrated in the South and West. The West had a 19.7 percent increase in households and a 17.4 percent increase in population.

Utah failed to keep pace with household growth with four other states in the Mountain West. Nevada households increased by 37 percent, Arizona by 33.9 percent, New Mexico by 21.9 percent and Colorado by 19.3 percent. Only Arizona and Nevada surpassed Utah in percent increase of population growth.

From 1980 to 1988, Utah had more new households than Idaho, Wyoming and Montana which had a 11.9, 6.1 and 7.2 percent growth in households respectively.

The three states losing population in the 1980s - West Virginia, Iowa and Michigan - had low household growth rates.

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CHART

Hawaii, Alaska follow Utah

State

Average no.

of persons

Utah

3.17

Hawaii

2.99

Alaska

2.85

Mississippi

2.78

Louisiana

2.77

S. Carolina

2.75

New Mexico

2.75

Texas

2.74

Idaho

2.71

National Avg.

2.62

Source: U.S. Census Bureau