SALT LAKE CITY — Families in the Beehive State are bringing in more money, propelling Utah to a stronger recovery from the Great Recession than the rest of the nation.
But 1 in 10 Utahns is still living in poverty.
The findings come in a batch of newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Not every household is benefitting from the economic growth, but in general, Utah is doing really well," said Pam Perlich, demographics director at the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Institute.
Utah families on average earned more than $74,100 in 2016, according to the figures released Thursday. That's a bit higher — 3.5 percent — than last year. It's also 20th in the nation, and it tops the U.S. average of about $71,000.
Median family income in Utah, the U.S for 2016 | Mary Archbold
"This is not a big boom that's going on" in Utah, Perlich said, but when compared with the rest of the country, the Beehive State is racing ahead.
Utah households, including those of single people, couples and others, outpaced all but 11 states.
That's especially so in South Jordan, where family income leads the Utah pack at $110,700. Provo takes last place with around $50,800, in large part to a high college student population at Brigham Young University.
Despite upticks in Utahns' earnings last year, just over 10 percent lived at or below the poverty line, compared with 14 percent of Americans nationally and 11 percent in neighboring Colorado. The poverty threshold in 2016 was $24,300 for a household of four.
Persistent poverty in the Beehive State may have to do with growing Latino population struggling to earn as much as other Utahns, connect with resources or reach the same levels of education, said Matthew Weinstein, state priorities partnership director with Voices for Utah Children, an advocacy group for low-income families.
"You can't look at this without taking a look at demographic trends," he said of the income figures.
Weinstein said he believes the poverty rate could plunge if Utah were to do two things: Join the majority of states in providing earned income tax credits, which are aimed at helping low-income people; and expand the federal health coverage program, Medicaid, for 100,000 Utahns. Utah's Republican-controlled Legislature has foregone the expansion.
Last year, the news of Utah's relative prosperity fell on ears outside of Utah and likely compelled people to move to the state, according to Perlich's team of demographers at the University of Utah.
About 3.6 percent of Utahns who moved last year came from out of state, a slight uptick from 2015.
"We're just really fortunate here in Utah to have an economy that seems to be diversifying and expanding and recreating itself in the aftermath of the recession," Perlich said. "Not every place is as fortunate."
Her team earlier this summer pointed to a rise in tech and related support jobs expected to drive a population boom in Utah County over the next 50 years.
The data released Thursday provide snapshots but don't give a full picture of Utahns' economic health, Perlich noted.
Ten of Utah's densest cities had enough people to provide accurate data, according to the institute. The communities of more than 65,000 are concentrated on the Wasatch Front, from Layton to Orem, but also include St. George.
Other interesting findings in the Gardner Institute's analysis that considered changes from 2015 to 2016:6 comments on this story
• Utahns get married at 24, according to median estimates.
• The Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander population in Utah shot up 22 percent to nearly 29,000 in the one-year period. It's the fastest growing of any racial or ethnic group.
• White Utahns who don't identify as Hispanic made up the largest overall increase, with more than 37,000 people.
• Immigrants are taking up a larger slice of Utah's population, with more than 252,300 in 2016. Most are from Latin America, but more people from Europe and Asia are calling the Beehive State home.