From Denver County, Colo., to Harris County, Texas, the nation's minority population is booming, according to census population estimates released today.

With a total population of 566,974, Denver County is the largest of eight counties that became majority-minority between July 1, 2005 and July 1, 2006. Harris County, anchored by Houston, gained 121,400 minority residents in one year — more than any other county.

Nationally, there are now 303 counties in which non-Hispanic whites are in the minority. That's nearly one in 10 counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's estimates of county population by race, Hispanic origin and age.

Los Angeles County has the nation's largest minority population with 7 million. That's a larger population than the total population of 38 states, including Utah. Los Angeles also has the nation's largest population of non-Hispanic whites at 2.9 million.

While the minority population continues to boom nationally and in Utah, Pamela Perlich, senior research economist at the University of Utah, says Utah won't have a minority-majority population anytime soon, largely because of its high fertility rates among white women.

The state, overall, remains one of the nation's "whitest" states with an overall minority population share of 17 percent.

"By 2010 the state is going to have one in five of its people minorities," Perlich said. "Utah is going to have a whiter population than the rest of the country. ... There is a higher fertility rate among white women. In some states white women are not even at replacement levels."

In Utah, southeastern San Juan County is the only minority-majority county, with nearly 60 percent minorities. In that county, which encompasses part of the Navajo Nation, American Indians comprise 53 percent of the population.

If any other county reaches 50 percent minority, it likely will be Salt Lake County, where nearly one in four residents are now minorities, Perlich said. And the county continues to be an employment center and houses the state's largest public university.

Minorities contributed to half the population growth in the county from 2005 to 2006, and many of the county's school districts are majority-minority, she said.

Juliette Tennert, state demographer, said Utah is beginning to "look more like the nation as a whole when it comes to diversity" as a result of an economy that continues to attract workers from other states and other nations.

"Utah has a lot of jobs available," she said. "We still have relatively inexpensive housing. People see it as a good place to move to."

The largest minority group in the state, and in Salt Lake County, is Hispanics. The more than 149,000 Hispanics in Salt Lake County comprise about two-thirds of the county's 223,157 minorities.

Other counties with large minority populations were Utah County, with 60,226 minorities, Weber County, with 42,252, and Davis County with 32,083.

Some smaller counties are also seeing strong growth in the minority communities. Wasatch County's minority population nearly doubled since 2000, with growth fueled largely by Hispanics bringing the minority population to 1,991, or about 10 percent of the population, on July 1, 2006.

Other points in the census estimates include:

• While seven of the 10 counties with the highest proportion of their population under 5 years old were in Texas, South Dakota or Utah, it is not a Utah county, but Webb County, Texas, which topped the list at 13.1 percent.

• When it comes to white majorities, Magoffin County, Ky., and Mitchell County, Iowa, led the nation with 98.9 percent of their populations being non-Hispanic whites.

• Maricopa County, Ariz., gained 71,000 Hispanic residents from July 1, 2005 to July 1, 2006 — the biggest one-year increase in the nation.

• At 97 percent Hispanic, Starr County, Texas, has the highest proportion of Hispanic residents in the nation.

• Cook County, Ill., where Chicago is located, had 1.4 million black residents, the nation's largest black population.

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