It's not too hard to have 2020 vision: If you want to know what Utah will look like a decade from now, visit Salt Lake's Parkview Elementary. By the end of the next decade, predict local demographers, Utah's schools will, like Parkview, be largely filled with "minorities," many of them the children of immigrants.
Utah's minorities give birth at higher rates than the state's white population, even though Utahns in general have the highest fertility rate in the U.S., explains University of Utah senior research economist Pam Perlich. The nation is expected to be "minority majority" by 2040, with Utah following suit a couple generations later.
This fastest growing part of the state's population, Perlich cautions, will put strains on our schools, which are already struggling to deal with higher minority drop-out rates and an achievement gap. Utah may want to rethink its unenviable position as last among the states in per-pupil spending.
By the end of the next decade we'll probably still be the youngest state in the country but we'll also be getting older, as baby boomers and their older siblings age. In another generation, there will be more Utahns over 60 than there are Utah schoolchildren.
An aging populace will want smaller houses that are close to health care services and transit, notes Arthur C. Nelson, director of the U's Metropolitan Research Center. And there will likely be more people who can only afford to rent. Of the 330,000 new housing units needed between now and 2030, he says, nearly half should be for renters.
Utahns will still long for their single-family house on a quarter acre, guesses Brian Hall of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, but they'll likely instead be moving into town homes, realizing "this is all I can afford; I'll have to share a wall with someone."
There will be more multi-family residential units, especially along the TRAX and Front-Runner corridors, predicts Stephen Goldsmith, assistant professor of city and metropolitan planning at the U, and there will more mixed-use housing projects downtown. Eventually, he optimistically predicts, "there will be a 24-hour vitality that will make downtown safer and more vibrant."
— Elaine Jarvik