Provo-Orem and Logan were two of the nation's fastest-growing metro areas last year, according to Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.
Provo-Orem ranked No. 6 and Logan was No. 7 among the nation's 366 metro areas in percentage change of growth between 2008 and 2009, the bureau said.
Meanwhile, Ogden-Clearfield was No. 32, the Salt Lake metro area was No. 60, and St. George was No. 95, meaning they were all in the top quarter of metro areas for growth.
The high ranks came even though population growth in Utah last year slowed to a comparative crawl, at least by local standards. The actual population increase in Utah dropped in half over the past two years. But growth was still robust compared with the rest of the nation.
"While in-migration slowed down in Utah like most states in the nation during the recession, we continue to have the highest fertility rate in the nation," said state demographer Juliette Tennert. "So even in a time of economic downturn, we are usually a leader in the nation for growth."
She added, "We're unique in Utah in that we always have a lot of natural growth" from families having more children, especially in the Provo-Orem area, where fertility rates are the highest in the state. The metro area is home of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University and attracts many young couples at the peak of their child-bearing years.
While Logan is also home to Utah State University, Tennert noted that "Logan was an area not quite as impacted by the recession as other places in Utah. Everywhere felt some impact, but Logan was doing a little better than most," so it also may have attracted more immigration than other places by drawing people to jobs there.
Tennert said Utah also appears to have had some recent immigration from children of extended families who lost jobs out of the state and who have "come back to the state to move in with family and hunker down" until better times return.
According to the new estimates, Provo-Orem had an increase of 15,797 residents last year for a new total population of 555,591. The metro area ranks 91st out of 366 in total population, up from No. 92 a year earlier.
The Logan metro area had an increase of 3,583 residents for a total population of 127,945. Logan ranked No. 296 in population among metro areas, up from No. 299.
The Salt Lake metro area had an increase of 18,693 residents for a total population of 1.13 million. Salt Lake ranked No. 48 among metro areas, up from No. 49.
The Ogden-Clearfield metro area had an increase of 10,571 residents for a total population of 541,569. The metro area ranked No. 93, up from No. 97.
The St. George metro area saw an increase of 1,795 residents for a total population of 137,473. St. George ranked No. 279, up from No. 280.
The Census Bureau also released estimates of growth between 2000 and 2009 that captured growth during booming times earlier in the decade.
The St. George metro area ranked No. 2 in growth in the nation for that nine-year period, and Provo-Orem ranked No. 3.
"That definitely captures the great economic boom we had earlier in the decade and the great population increase Utah had as jobs attracted immigrants, adding people on top of the state's normally high birth rate," Tennert said.
For 2000-09, Logan ranked No. 32 in growth by percentage change nationally, Ogden-Clearfield ranked No. 38, and the Salt Lake metro area ranked No. 73.
That means all of Utah's metro areas ranked in the top fifth of metro areas for growth between 2000 and 2009.
New data also show that five counties in Utah were among the nation's 100 fastest growing between 2000 and 2009.
In that time, Washington County ranked No. 26 nationally, with 52.1 percent growth; Utah County was No. 34, with 48 percent growth; Tooele County was No. 44, with 43.2 percent growth; Wasatch County was No. 51, with 42 percent growth; and Iron County was No. 96, with 34 percent growth.
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