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Utah gets more diverse; researcher says it should influence policy

May 7, 2021, 4:41 PM
Utah more diverse...
People from different nationalities join then-Gov. Gary Herbert and other community leaders in the unveiling of the Utah Compact on Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Dec. 15, 2020. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The data shows Utah is getting more diverse in terms of its racial, ethnic and sexual makeup. As these numbers grow, one researcher says it should be used to bridge racial gaps and disparities. 

New research released this week from the Kem C. Gardner Institute at the University of Utah shows the state’s makeup is becoming more diverse. Although the findings are complex, Natalie Gochnour said some findings may surprise people. 

“We just people to understand: What is our racial and ethnic makeup?” Gochnour told Boyd Matheson, host of Inside Sources on KSL NewsRadio. “There are 17 states that have less racial and ethnic diversity than Utah. That surprises a lot of people.”

Utah becomes more diverse

In fact, Gochnour said Utah’s diversity is growing. Places like San Juan County and West Valley City are majority-minority, meaning minority populations make up the majority of the population. 

The study was sponsored by Zion’s Bank and other business leaders in the state to determine how health, housing and economic data is broken down across the state. 

Researchers gathered data based on 54 indicators according to racial, ethnic and sexual categories to determine the state’s diversity levels, according to Gochnour. Researchers found there are several disparities in some areas, but not enough to make overall generalizations. 

“It’s really hard to summarize, but we must,” Gochnour said. “It’s a tough message to share, but an important one.” 

The study found minority populations are more likely to have less income and wealth, higher poverty rates, lower education achievements and attainments, etc. 

Health outcomes, however, are more nuanced. The report found that minority populations show longer life expectancy compared to the majority population. 

Where to go from here? 

Now that researchers have the data, Gochner said that’s not the end of the line. Instead, it should be a stepping-off point to make decisions that reflect the state’s population. 

“You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you are,” Gochnour said. “[Now,] we can make policies knowing where we are.”

 

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