Can curbing Utah’s population growth address drought, Great Salt Lake?

Aug 1, 2022, 3:17 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 10:00 am

Utah population growth...

FILE - Rows of homes, are shown in suburban Salt Lake City, on April 13, 2019. (AP Photo /Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP Photo /Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — Water restrictions, the Great Salt Lake drying up, and Utah’s drought are all causes of concern to Utahns. Is the fix to slow Utah’s population growth?

Perhaps. But that doesn’t look like a possibility at least not anytime soon.  According to U.S. Census data, Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. With Utah on track to have 4 million residents in about a decade and 5 million residents by 2051, should population growth be regulated?

Director of Demographic Research and State Data Center Coordinator at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, Mallory Bateman, tried to answer those questions with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic

Utah’s population growth

Bateman, said that long-term projections do show continued growth for Utah, but it seems to have slowed down. 

“It is at a more moderated kind of pace than what we’ve experienced since the 90’s when we had a big wave of migration that changed how we grow quite a bit,” Bateman said.

And Utah’s fertility rate has gone down every year since the great recession according to Bateman. The state used to sit atop the list with the highest total fertility rate in the country. With our slow but steady decrease, Utah now sits at fourth on that same list.

General ideas to curb Utah growth

The hosts as well as callers had some ideas about curbing growth. Debbie Dujanovic suggested a surcharge for those who buy houses in Utah with plans to live elsewhere. That would apply, she said, to people buying properties as vacation homes or even investment properties.

For the past several years there have been an abundance of homes being built in Utah. Dujanovic said that charging people extra to buy a house they don’t plan to use as their primary residence may cause some investors to look elsewhere, which, in turn, may slightly impact Utah’s population.

A caller suggested more rental properties in Utah. Considering rental prices are so high, more rental options could potentially lower the average price.  Dave Noriega disagreed, saying that, considering rentals are (almost) always less expensive than actually owning a home, a population growth ‘fix’ that raises the price of rentals may not be the answer.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Can curbing Utah’s population growth address drought, Great Salt Lake?