New report explores similarities and differences in rural and urban Utahns

May 23, 2024, 4:00 PM

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Huntsville, Weber County, is pictured on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — While nine out of 10 people in Utah live in urban areas, researchers from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute are finding that some demographics and socioeconomic for rural areas are not as different as they might have suspected. 

They analyzed U.S. Census data from 2020, which showed that people who lived in Utah’s urban and rural communities surprisingly shared similar income levels, household types, and educational levels.

“The income is one that caught our eye because it was a lot closer than we anticipated,” said Mallory Bateman, director of demographic research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

The report indicated that urban households earn higher incomes up to the $50,000-$74,999 income grouping, but rural households earn higher incomes for groups $75,000 and above.

Related: Utah has most religious adherents in the country

While there were a lot of similarities, there were also some major differences.

Bateman said there was a big distinction in the age demographics. The average age in rural Utah was 34.9, while the average age in urban Utah was 30.9. The difference could be explained by how young adults are dispersed.

“You have young people typically leaving for educational opportunities or employment opportunities,” Bateman said. “If you look at the age structure charts…you’ve got this hollowing out in the 15 up to 40-year-olds.”

The data also showed that people in rural Utah are less racially and ethnically diverse, with 14% of people identifying as minorities, as opposed to 24% in urban areas. 

Related: Utah is struggling to retain its rural ‘Hotshots’

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New report explores similarities and differences in rural and urban Utahns