Skip to content

The City Café

Stay up to date on important information for local government leaders.

Category Archives: Population

Thank you, everyone, who has taken part in the 2018 resolutions process. ULCT has formally adopted 4 new resolutions to guide League policy in the coming years. You can see them listed below:

Resolution 2018-001 (medical cannabis)

Resolution 2018-002 (water rights and supply)

Resolution 2018-003 (motor fuel tax)

Resolution 2018-004 (growth and housing)

These resolutions, along with the rest of ULCT’s current resolutions, can be found on our website at



Cities and towns in Utah receive a 1% sales tax that is distributed by the state using a formula based 50% on population and 50% on point-of-sale.  The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget puts forth population estimates each year that affect the distribution of of this tax, and ULCT economist Doug Macdonald has put together his estimate on how each municipality will be affected by changes in population in both PDF and EXCEL formats.  Contact Doug at with any questions.


Click Here for the State of Metropolitan America Interactive Map

Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Provo are mentioned in a new report by the Brookings Institution called The State of Metropolitan America.  Here is an overview of the report that analyses demographic trends from the 2000s and divides major US metropolitan areas into seven new categories reflecting these new realities (NEXT FRONTIER: High growth, High diversity, High educational attainment; NEW HEARTLAND: High growth, Low diversity, High educational attainment; DIVERSE GIANT: Low growth, High diversity, High educational attainment; BORDER GROWTH: High growth, High diversity, Low educational attainment; MID-SIZED MAGNET: High growth, Low diversity, Low educational attainment; SKILLED ANCHOR: Low growth, Low diversity, High educational attainment; INDUSTRIAL CORE: Low growth, Low diversity, Low educational attainment).

By Lincoln Shurtz

Yesterday the Utah State legislature concluded it redistricting effort. While the Utah House and Senate maps had broad support and passed without much fanfare in early October, the congressional maps (which are making way for a fourth congressional district) had significantly more dissention among legislative members.

Issues such as partisanship, urban rural distinction, making way for known congressional candidates and just general political agendas all played out during the two weeks between the initial special session call and the final passage of the congressional maps.  In an attempt to avoid a lawsuit for gerrymandering, the legislature allowed unprecedented public participation in the process; establishing websites for public input, public map making, and a great venue for views to be expressed on the map.  Now that does not mean that all participants agreed with maps, lawsuits will be avoided, or all parties are happy with the final outcome of the map, but at least great attempts were made by leadership to make the process as open and as transparent as possible….one must keep in mind that regardless of ones position on the map this process will inevitably have political elements that will never be avoided.

The greatest debate over the maps was how to handle the densely-populated Salt Lake County.  Phrases such as the “doughnut” (which would have created a largely Salt Lake City District) or the “Pizza Slice” (which had all for congressional districts taking a small slice of Salt Lake City) were being tossed around like the dough of an actual pizza, and in the end a variation of the “pizza slice” ultimately passed. The key work is a “variation” as there were literally dozens of “variations of each map” that were being debated in party caucuses, on newscast and among the citizenry.

Because there are two-sides to every argument we are trying to refrain from labeling any proposal as good or bad, but rather decided to just provide you with the links to the various proposals and the final map so that you can make that determination for yourself.

I do, however, think we should commend the legislature on its efforts to represent the state and fairly divide the state in to the four districts.  Their level of success on this effort is in the eye of the beholder.

Please see the link below to find more than you would ever want to know about the redistricting effort.

General Redistricting Site:

Congressional Map (Final):

Senate Map (Final):

House Map (Final):

We hope this finds you well, and please let us know if you have any questions about the process, next steps or the particulars of the maps.



Utah adds a city larger than Logan in new growth each year to the state (since 1999).

Utah adds a city larger than Logan in new growth each year to the state (since 1999).

Mark Twain used to say, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  There is no question that numbers can be used to manipulate the truth and Lee Davidson‘s article  on October 23 “State and Local Governments are Flourishing” fits into this category, using numbers that only tell part of the story. Here are a couple of examples:

  • In 2007 Utah reported 131,802 full-time public employees (state, counties, cities, school districts, water districts, and special districts) — an increase of 8,328 from 2002.
    • This number is really only relevant if we look at the overall state growth — since 2002 Utah has increased in population by over 340,000 new residents (a city larger than Logan a year).
    • So what does this mean…according to Mr. Davidson’s numbers public employees have increased by 8,328 – but as a percent of the population these local government employees have actually decreased from 2002 (5.2% of the population) to 2007 (4.8% of the population).
    • This would imply that state and local governments are not necessarily flourishing…but increasing appropriately with the overall state growth.
  • Utah governments added 50 percent more workers than the national average
    • In 2006 Utah was the 3rd fastest growing state in the nation…with a growth rate 1.6 times the national average. I don’t think it takes much analysis to explain why Utah would add 50 percent more workers than the national average.
  • Utah added 2,493 new elementary and secondary teachers in five years
    • According to the Economic Report to the Governor (2008) Utah’s school age population will grow by 113,000 between 2000 and 2010 – and grow by another 160,000 before 2020. According to that math Utah is going to need to hire even more school teachers quite soon.

The real story is that growth creates pressures for all local government entities (schools, cities, water districts, etc). When Utah adds more than 50,000 new residents to the state year (a growth rate Utah has sustained since 1999) this puts pressure on local government – and requires more employees. Should we put a cap on the number of teachers or professors the state can hire? Or maybe a city should be capped on their number of employees? I have a feeling this won’t sit well when suddenly a city is not allowed to increase the police force when the population of the city or county increases. Or when universities or high schools are not permitted to add new faculty to account for the increased number of students.

It is pretty simple math…more residents in Utah means more need for cops, teachers, etc. I don’t think this is scandalous in the sense that “the size of government here is growing.” A story about what are the real costs of growth by Mr. Davidson would be far more informative.

An interesting new report has been released this weekend by Brookings called Mountain Megas (you can read the Deseret News article about the report here). America’s Intermountain West is experiencing some of the highest rates of population growth and economic/demographic change in the country. The region—consisting of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah—has grown nearly three times faster than the United States as a whole over the past two decades. The entire state of Utah has been impacted by this incredible growth, from Cache County to Washington County. The report “describes and assesses the new supersized reality of the Intermountain West.”

The region [Intermountain West] is growing up, flexing its muscles, and distancing itself from California, which historically has had an outsized impact on the West’s development.

The lead author for this report is Dr. Robert Lang, a Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and co-Director of the Virginia Tech Metropolitan Institute. Dr. Lang spoke at a ULCT sponsored forum last April, his presentation was followed up by an interesting panel discussion including Soren Simonson (Salt Lake City), Rick Horst (South Jordan), and Mike Coulam (Sandy City).

Not everything is rosy for the Megapolitan regions however. Dr. Lang points out that local leaders have enormous pressure to maintain and keep up with infrastructure demands. This highlights the point that we have talked about before…population growth creates a lot positives, but also creates a lot of costs to local government. Dr. Lang advocates a partnership between federal, state, and municipal officials to address this situation.  With regard to the infrastructure pressure Dr Lang says:

We think the country is so deteriorating in terms of quality of its infrastructure — that they’re so behind — that there will be a moment of shock when the country understands this under-investment will jeopardize its economic development. You would hope that there would be enough at stake that the federal government would gain a recognition of this and realize that this pattern that we’re on is at the nation’s peril.

Robert Lang Forum — April 17th, 2008

Mountain Megas — Executive Summary

Mountain Megas — Wasatch Front Profile

There is no question that the baby boomers are beginning to reach retirement age. Over 300 Americans turn 60 each hour of the day. So what does this mean? Should we fear the increasing over 65 population and the potential costs this will create for government? John B. Shoven, an economics professor at Stanford recently explored the potential affect this aging population could have. Shoven (in a recent article published by Foreign Policy) writes:

There is a looming catastrophe stalking the developed world. It promises to devastate the global economy, overwhelm hospitals, and decimate armed forces. What is the calamity that promises such misfortune? Not a killer virus, deadly terrorist attack, or natural disaster. It’s the aging of the world’s baby boomers, the coming tidal wave of senior citizens who will live longer, consume more, and produce less, seriously challenging societies’ ability to care for their graying ranks.

This is the sentiment that is presented by a number of policymakers. However, Shoven argues that the way we measure age is flawed. Specifically, a 65 year old today is not the same as a 65 year old a few decades ago. In fact, according to Shoven’s numbers, a 65 year old man in 1940 could expect to live 11 more years. Today a 65 year old man has a life expectancy of another 17 years. Or a 65 year old today is the equivalent (according to mortality rates) as a 59 year old in 1970.

Does this mean we should up the retirement age? I’m not necessarily advocating that…but this does add an additional factor to our discussion of dependency ratios and aging demographics. While it is true the baby boomers are coming, it sounds like 65 may soon be the new 55.

Is rail transit a necessary element for economic vitality of the

Did you know that Mesa, Arizona is now larger than Miami or St. Louis? Or another suburb of Phoenix, Peoria, is now larger than Peoria IL? The population growth in America throughout the last few decades has largely occurred in the suburbs, or the “Boomburbs” according to Dr. Robert Lang.  Lang was in Salt Lake City yesterday to present his research regarding the trend of boomburbs across the nation and the population growth of the west. Recently Lang’s book Boomburbs: The Rise of America’s Accidential Citieswas published by Brookings (I blogged about the book a year ago: here).  Lang’s afternoon lecture at the U of U and evening forum at the SLC Library raised a number of important questions related to our growth here in Utah. A few issues were especially relevant:

  • How does a city transition from it’s “cowboy” or country heritage to an urbanized environment? Meaning if we are going to add 1 million more residents to the Wasatch Front (by 2060 Salt Lake County is projected to be over 2 million in population) how will this increased density reshape our notion of community in the suburbs? We are beginning to see this already with sleepy suburban communities now growing to over 100,000 in population.
  • How can cities incentivize significant economic development? How important is transportation infrastructure? Or a walkable space that residents enjoy? These are few issues addressed by Lang.

In addition to the presentation from Dr. Lang the evening forum also included the perspective of three panelists: Soren Simonson (Salt Lake City councilman), Rick Horst (South Jordan city manager) and Mike Coulam (Sandy City community development director). These three officials all contributed to an interesting discussion. Thanks again to Dr. Lang and our panelists (and KCPW for broadcasting the forum).

You can listen to the KCPW podcast here: Dr. Robert Lang Forum


It seems like population growth has no end in sight for the state of Utah. However, obviously not every region of the Nation is experiencing the same growth. An interesting article in the recent Economist addresses this issue of population decreasing in the Midwest. Looking at this map you can see one of the reason why Utah’s economy is currently stronger than most of nation.

You can read the full article here: the-great-plains-drain.pdf

America reached a milestone at the end of October, 300 million Americans. TIME magazine provided a recent breakdown of America “by the numbers.” Their data provided some interesting descriptions on who we are today as Americans. For example FOR EVERY 1000 AMERICANS…

  • 568 live in the state they were born
  • 455 are employed
  • 341 drive to work alone
  • 173 speak a language other than English at home
  • 126 live in poverty
  • 122 are 65 and older
  • 1 are in kindergarten

But what about here in Utah? FOR EVERY 1000 UTAHNS…

  • 900 are white
  • 630 were born in Utah
  • 140 speak a language other than English at home
  • 100 live in poverty
  • 80 are over the age of 65
  • 2 are in kindergarten

%d bloggers like this: