The Desert Canyon development is shown on Aug. 11, 2021, in St George, Utah. St. George and the rest of Washington County have once again ranked as the fastest-growing metro area in America. The Spectrum reports that a new report from the U.S. Census showed the local population growing by nearly 10,000 new residents between July 1 of 2020 and July of 2021, a 5.1% increase. (Sean Hemmersmeier, The Spectrum via AP)
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ST. GEORGE — St. George and the rest of Washington County have once again ranked as the fastest-growing metro area in America, according to a new report from the U.S. Census.
The new report showed the local population growing by nearly 10,000 new residents between July 1 of 2020 and July of 2021, a 5.1% increase, the Spectrum newspaper reported. The metro area — a statistical area that includes all of Washington County — grew to 191,226 residents, according to the report. If that number is correct, then the region would have grown by more than 30% in the past decade.
Two other Utah cities made the list of top-10 fastest-growing metro areas, with the Provo-Orem area ranked eighth at 3.3% and the Logan area ranked 10th at 2.9%.
The mayor of St. George, Michele Randall, said the results of the latest population reports aren’t surprising. She credited the area’s reputation for quality-of-life amenities, although she acknowledged this type of growth does present challenges.
“St. George is a beautiful city with equally amazing people,” Randall told The Spectrum. “We are feeling the growing pains as a city and must do our best to manage growth so it doesn’t affect the quality of life we have all come to love.”
These growing pains include making sure there are enough infrastructure projects added to the area as the population continues to swell and resources are properly allocated, says Randall.
“Keeping up with infrastructure, making sure we have the water to meet our needs. Having enough staff to maintain our quality of life, especially keeping up with our public safety personnel,” she said.
In neighboring Iron County, the population also swelled at a rapid rate, around 4.7%, from July 2020 to July 2021. The county added just under 3,000 people during this time to bring its population to 60,519 residents.
These Census numbers are similar to population measures produced by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah in December 2021. Its report also measured the growth of the area from July 2020 to July 2021 but came to slightly different numbers.
The Gardner Institute reported Washington County added 7,000 new residents in this timeframe and grew by 4% while Iron County added 3,500 residents and grew by 6.2%.
Despite the slight differences in these numbers, it would be hard to argue that southwestern Utah isn’t one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, at least by percentage. The decennial census showed the area was the third fastest-growing in the nation between 2010 and 2020 with a 30.5% growth rate. The metro area has also earned the designation of the fastest growing in multiple years, most recently from 2016 to 2017, when the area grew by 4%.
Utah has grown as well, but a slower rate than its southwestern corner. This last year, the state added just under 56,300 residents and grew at a 1.7% rate to make its population around 3,338,000 residents.
Only two of Utah’s 29 counties lost some population, but not by much. Both were in the southeastern part of the state, with Grand County losing 18 residents and Carbon County losing 93.
While Utah is growing more rapidly than most places, the upward trend was seen in most of the U.S. Of America’s 2,297 counties, 58% had their populations grow while 41.8% of counties had their populations shrink. The rest showed no measurable change in their populations. The press release sent out by the Census Bureau indicated these population increases were focused around small and medium-sized counties and there was a “shift” away from larger counties.
The top 10 counties that lost the most population were concentrated in California, New York, Illinois and Florida. Los Angeles County lost the most residents — around 185,000 — and New York County had the greatest percentage loss of residents with a negative 6.9% rate.
The states that had the largest growth rates were Utah, Texas, California, Arizona and Florida. The county that added the most residents was Maricopa County in Arizona — which contains the state’s biggest city, Phoenix — adding around 58,000 residents. Utah County came in at the 10th spot on the list by adding just under 22,000 residents to bring its population to around 685,000 people.