Data Book: Introduction
Databook Purpose and Overview
In the last six years Utah has experienced an unprecedented economic
boom. Economic growth has attracted large numbers of residents from other states to Utah.
High in-migration, combined with a consistently growing resident population, has applied
pressure on Utah's existing transportation, water, sewer, educational, and recreational
facilities. The need to preserve Utah's quality of life and plan for infrastructure
improvements has given rise to Quality Growth Efficiency Tools (QGET), a cooperative
civic/private regional growth management initiative. This report details the progress of
the QGET technical committee in providing growth-related information to planners, elected
officials and the general public. It will show what information is currently available to
analyze the impacts of urban growth through historical trends and future projections.
The QGET technical committee plans to use trends and projections
to analyze alternative growth scenarios. These alternative growth scenarios provide
information on how planning decisions will affect future urban growth. Specifically,
alternative growth scenarios can assist in answering the following questions: What kinds
of urban growth accommodate a limited supply of water? What kinds of urban growth affect
air quality so that the Wasatch Front does not exceed national air quality
standards? What kinds of urban growth will reduce traffic congestion? What kinds of
urban growth will reduce infrastructure costs, and subsequent costs to taxpayers? What
kinds of growth will preserve adequate open spaces?
The analysis of trends, projections and alternative growth scenarios
addresses eight major categories- demographics, economics, transportation, air quality,
land use, energy, water use, and infrastructure costs. The data and analysis focuses on
the Greater Wasatch Area, the largest and fastest growing urban area in Utah. This area is
unique from the rest the state due to its relatively high living densities and
concentrated economic base. It does not neatly follow jurisdictional boundaries,
encompassing the area bordered by Brigham City on the north, Nephi on the south, Tooele on
the west, and Heber City on the east. For the purpose of understanding this report,
definitions of the study area are listed below.
Greater Wasatch Area Subregions
Metro Counties all of Utah, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber
Counties. These are the four most urbanized, densely populated counties in the
state. They border the western side of the Wasatch Mountains. Approximately 75
percent of the state's population lives within this Metro area.
The Wasatch Back the most populous sections of Morgan,
Summit and Wasatch Counties that border the eastern side of the Wasatch Mountains.
The Wasatch Back is currently much more rural in character than the Wasatch Front.
However, Summit County has been the second fastest growing county in Utah over the last 15
years, with Morgan and Wasatch Counties also experiencing rapid growth.
Tooele/Grantsville located to the west of the Salt Lake Valley. This
area has received spill over growth from the populous Wasatch Front. Many of the
area's 20,000 residents work and use services in the Salt Lake Valley.
Northern Juab County currently reaping some of the rapid growth of
its northern neighbor, Utah County. In the last five years, Juab has grown by an
annual average rate of 4.0 percent, substantially higher than the state average. The
majority of this growth has taken place in northern Juab, around the city of Nephi.
Though still a relatively small county with 7,150 residents, it is likely that its growth
will coincide with the rapid growth in Utah County.
Southern Box Elder County concentrated in the area of Brigham City, with a
population of about 16,000.
Map of the Greater Wasatch Area
Because most of the current data is only available on a state and county
level, the tables and figures in this report are organized by the geographic boundaries
QGET Databook Geographic Boundaries
10-county Greater Wasatch Area all of Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah,
Wasatch, Summit, Morgan, Tooele, Box Elder and Juab Counties. This encompasses the entire
Metro Counties all of Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties. These
boundaries match the federally designated metropolitan areas of Salt Lake-Ogden and
Non-metro Counties all counties of the Greater Wasatch Area, excluding the
Metro. The counties include all of Box Elder, Morgan, Tooele, Summit, Wasatch and Juab.
State of Utah encompasses the entire state.
Map of the Greater Wasatch
Area and Metro Counties
Purpose of the QGET Databook
1. Illustrate major urban growth trends and projections for Utah and the Greater Wasatch
2. Provide information on how to access additional growth-related data.
3. Provide information about the Baseline Scenario.
1. Illustrate major growth trends and projections for Utah and the Greater
The growth-related data in this report illustrates information that
QGET shares with Utah agencies and citizens. Some of this information is available
on the State Internet server (http://www.qget.state.ut.us). As the web site
develops, viewers will be able to retrieve growth-related information through numeric,
visual and interactive displays. These displays are described below:
Numeric Displays- Database tables which cite statistics on a yearly
basis. The statistics are available on county, metro, non-metro and state
levels. Some tables show past (historical) statistics and some show future
(projected) statistics, depending on the trend that is emphasized in the report.
Visual Displays- These include graphs, charts and maps. Graphs illustrate
relationships between past, present, and future statistical trends. Charts compare
statistics among political jurisdictions such as states, counties and cities. Maps
illustrate information spatially and geographically.
Interactive Models- Models use statistical and geographical information to make
demographic, economic, and transportation projections. These models will allow planners to
input numbers and receive alternative scenario outcomes. This will assist planners
in preparing multiple growth scenarios. The report only describes the
characteristics of these models and provides examples of them. The QGET Technical
Committee may make some interactive models available on the QGET web server.
2. Provide information on how to access additional growth-related data.
The growth-related data is organized into eight subject areas-
demographics, economics, transportation, air quality, land use, energy, water, and
infrastructure costs. Each subject area contains an "Additional Data and
Sources Table." This table provides information on other types of data that are
not included in this report. It also lists the data source (eg. Utah Dept. of
Transportation, State Dept. of Employment Security).
3. Provide Information about the Baseline Scenario
The planning documents and planning models chapters of this
report details the various sources that contributed to the QGET Baseline Scenario. The
Baseline Scenario (available in hard copy and on the QGET web server) provides growth
projections for the next 25 years, considering current trends and policies continue into
the future. An understanding of projection models will assist with the preparation of
accurate, detailed alternative growth scenarios. Alternative growth scenarios will be
compared to the Baseline Scenario, which serves as a benchmark.
QGET was created by an appropriation from the legislature to improve
the technical/analytical tools used to plan for Utah's future. A Technical Committee
was formed to oversee the implementation and development of these tools. It was
created in a spirit of collaboration and is comprised of representatives from state
government agencies, regional planning entities, counties, cities, utilities, and Envision
Utah, a non-profit organization interested in Utah's future.
The Quality Growth Efficiency Tools (QGET) Technical Committee
seeks to improve the quality of information available to plan for Utah's future. The
focus of the committee is to enhance the technical modeling tools, data, and processes
such that decision makers have growth-related information related to air quality,
transportation, water, and land use that is comprehensive, reliable, accessible, and
The objectives of the QGET technical committee are twofold: 1)
Improve the technical and analytical models used to forecast growth, and 2) Improve the
processes and procedures that accompany the management of the data and models.
Related to this strategy are the following project goals that have been identified by the
committee and adopted in a general framework, subject to further refinement:
Facilitate the sharing of growth related information to all interested persons
Strengthen the collaboration and communication among planning entities;
Enhance the integration of current planning models, processes, and resources;
Improve knowledge about current and future land use;
Develop the capability to comprehensively analyze alternative growth scenarios;
Enhance and encourage public discussion about planning for the future by
providing improved analytical capacity and presentation of information.
The Technical Committee has decided to focus the initial efforts on
the Greater Wasatch Area. This area includes the four metropolitan counties of Salt
Lake, Davis, Weber, and Utah, and portions of Morgan, Wasatch, Summit, Juab, Tooele and
Box Elder. QGET will expand efforts into non-metropolitan counties after significant
progress is made in the metropolitan and adjacent areas.
While QGET focuses on providing technical tools for analyzing
urban growth issues, Envision Utah cooperates with citizens, business leaders and
policy-makers to develop growth strategies. The partnership is sponsored by the Coalition
for Utah's Future, a private non-profit organization dedicated to finding common ground
for the common good. It consists of almost 100 key community leaders who are committed to
creating a vision for Utah's future. Envision Utah's mission is to create a publicly
supported growth strategy that will preserve Utah's high quality of life and economic
vitality for the next 50 years. Governor Michael O. Leavitt and businessman Larry Miller
have agreed to serve as Honorary Co-chairs. Robert Grow, President and CEO of Geneva
Steel and Board of Trustees Chair of the Coalition, heads the Partnership.
Envision Utah will facilitate consensus for a growth strategy
through the development of a clear vision for the future. This requires inter-local,
inter-governmental, and public/private cooperation. The work of the partnership includes:
A baseline model to project Utah's future if current growth trends and policies
A broad survey of area residents to determine community characteristics that
they want to preserve or change.
Several alternative models showing possible growth patterns resulting from
different growth strategies.
Close analysis of the alternative models to determine and demonstrate the
relative costs and impacts of each strategy on population, infrastructure costs, air
quality, water, open space and recreation preservation, traffic congestion, fair housing
and business patterns.
A wide-spread public education and mass-media campaign to encourage the
residents of the region to express their preferences on alternatives and increase their
understanding of options and challenges inherent to growth.
The creation of a broadly supported growth strategy a clear vision
of our future.
Through these activities, Envision Utah seeks more cooperative
and visible planning efforts, a more informed public on growth planning issues, and a
publicly supported growth strategy. Envision Utah anticipates that a multi-year
implementation plan would promote the publicly supported growth strategy. Envision Utah
will encourage all public and private entities to make planning decisions consistent with
the publicly supported growth strategy.
Urban Growth in Utah
Over the past five years, Utah has experienced one of the nation's
highest growth rates in population and economic activity. Utah's population growth rate
ranked 3rd in the nation in 1996, a year in which the state's population surpassed 2
million. Of these 2 million residents, approximately 1.5 million live in the Wasatch Front
Metropolitan Counties, a 4-county region stretching about 90 miles from north to
south. Concentrated growth along the Wasatch Front has made Utah one of the most
urban states in the nation (ranked 6th). In addition to growth along the western Wasatch
Front, communities along the eastern part of the Wasatch Mountains (parts of Morgan,
Summit and Wasatch counties) have experienced unprecedented growth in the last five years.
In this report, the new growth area east of the Wasatch Mountains will be referred to as
the "Wasatch Back." The Wasatch Front and Back expect to receive the large
majority of Utah's projected 1.3 million population increase by the year 2020. The growth
of the Greater Wasatch Area, which includes the Wasatch Front and surrounding counties,
has caused increasing traffic congestion, changing land use patterns, rising land values,
and challenges to environmental quality.
Natural features limit urban growth along the Wasatch Front to a
narrow band of land stretching about 100 miles South to North, from Nephi to North
Ogden. East to West, the Wasatch Front is about 30 miles at its widest extent from
the Wasatch Mountains to Tooele. The steep slopes of the Wasatch Range limit growth on the
eastern side of the Wasatch Front, while the Great Salt Lake, the Utah Lake and wetlands
limit growth on the western side.
In 1847, the isolated Salt Lake Valley provided the Mormon pioneers a geography in
which they could govern themselves without persecution from other settlements. Earlier
settlers had bypassed Utah in favor of gold and fertile land on the Pacific Coast. The
Salt Lake Valley soon became the "Crossroads of the West," a prominent stopover
point for wagon trains traveling to California and Oregon. Later, the transcontinental
railroad connected East and West rails at Promitory Point, Utah. Salt Lake and Ogden would
become important links in the railroad system. After World War II, the Wasatch Front
became a crossroads for the interstate highway system, with I-15 and I-80 crossing in Salt
The Wasatch Front's role as a crossroads has developed a strong
economy based on trade and transportation. In addition, the precious minerals of the
Wasatch mountains and canyons attracted prospectors to the area. Water from the canyons'
rivers has sustained a continually growing population. In the 1970s, the Wasatch mountains
began to attract skiers and significant economic activity in the tourism industry.
Salt Lake City is the largest urban area in the Intermountain
West, which includes Utah, Nevada, Western Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Centrally
located, the Wasatch Front is currently the largest urban area between San Francisco and
Denver to the east and west. Phoenix is the closest metropolitan area south of the Wasatch
Front, and Portland the closet to the northwest. Dependence of the surrounding region on
the Wasatch Front for goods, services, employment, and transportation has bolstered its
position as the most culturally and economically influential metropolitan area in the
In the past twenty years, the Wasatch Front has maintained strong
migration ties with the major metropolitan areas south and west of Utah such as Los
Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas. All of these metropolitan areas have
experienced an overall in-migration as much of the national population has migrated from
the north and east parts of the United States to the south and west. Utah has received
much of the "spill over" from this national trend over the last six years, with
an in-migration of 108,000 over the same time period. California, which has the largest
population and economy in the country, has supplied most of the in-migrants to Utah (about
The growth rate of Utah's population has historically exceeded
that of the nation. This is due to Utah's levels of high natural increase, the number of
births minus the number of deaths. Utah has consistently registered one of the nation's
highest birth rates. In addition, the average Utah resident has generally experienced a
higher life expectancy than the average U.S. citizen. In contrast to natural increase,
Utah's net migration has fluctuated throughout the years, with periods of large
out-migration. For example, five of the six years from 1963 to 1968 were marked by
negative net migration. From 1984 to 1990, Utah experienced another period of large
out-migration, highlighted by a negative net migration of 14,526 people in 1988. Even
during these periods of out-migration, Utah's high birth and life expectancy rates have
ensured a constantly increasing population. Natural increase has accounted for 84 percent
of Utah's population growth since 1940. In recent years, high levels of in-migration have
combined with natural increase factors to produce trends of rapid population growth. This
has resulted in a population increase of about 274,000 residents in the past six years.
The only other time period to experience similarly high growth rates took place from 1977
The area surrounding the Wasatch Mountains in northern Utah has
always accommodated the majority of Utah's population. Over the past twenty years, the
population of the Greater Wasatch Area has received most of the state's new growth as
well, largely due to its established economic infrastructure and opportunities for
employment in the burgeoning service, trade and construction sectors. The state has become
less dependent on employment in mining and agriculture over the same time period. As
a result, most rural areas have experienced much slower economic and population growth
than metropolitan areas over the past twenty years. This is consistent with national
trends. Two rural counties that are an exception to this trend are Washington and Grand
Counties, areas with an expanding tourism industry and retirement community. Washington
and Grand Counties produced the two highest population growth rates in the state from 1995
Currently, Utah ranks as the sixth most urban state in the
nation. The U.S. Bureau of the Census classifies 87 percent of Utah's population as urban.
A person is considered urban if they live in an urbanized area (Utah has four: Logan,
Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo-Orem) or in a city over 2,500 persons.
Utah population and economic growth rates are projected to
continue to out-pace those of the nation from 1997 through 2020. The state's population,
which was 2.0 million in 1996, is projected to reach 3.3 million by the year 2020, a 65
percent increase. A rapid rate of natural increase and an increasingly diversified economy
will sustain this population growth.
The majority of the 1.3 million new Utahns will reside on the
Wasatch Front. The Wasatch Back expects to continue growing at rapid rates as well.
Summit County is projected to increase in population at an average rate of 4.2 percent
from 1997 to 2000.
Several major decisions will have an impact on the entire Greater
Wasatch Area within the next 10 years. Construction of the Legacy Highway along the
western corridor of the Wasatch Front is expected to alter land use and traffic
patterns. Construction of new roads is proposed to connect cities along the Wasatch
Back. Completion of light rail and further investments in public transportation will also
impact future land use and traffic patterns. In the future, it will become increasingly
difficult for the area to maintain national air quality standards as more automobiles use
the roads. Water demand will require construction of new water source facilities, major
conservation efforts, or a combination of the two. The Greater Wasatch Area faces
challenges to provide affordable housing for its residents as property values have risen
dramatically over the past five years. All of these decisions will affect the form of
future urban growth. Public discussion on growth issues may be enhanced by addressing
alternative growth strategies, which could alter current trends.