Salt Lake City leads state in population growth

For decades Utah’s suburban communities have led the state’s population growth but new population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show a shift toward urban living as Salt Lake City led the state in most new residents last year.

According to estimates released today by the Bureau, on July 1, 2017, Salt Lake City had an estimated population of 200,544 people, an increase of 5,891 residents over the prior year and 14,104 residents since the 2010 Census.

The Census Bureau previously estimated that Utah was the fasted growing state and St. George was the fastest growing metro in 2017, yet despite leading the nation in growth, no Utah cities appeared in the Bureau’s list of fastest growing cities for 2017.  In recent years both South Jordan and Lehi have been among the fastest growing cities in the country.

Since 2012, the capital city’s population had been growing at a steady rate of around 1,000 people per year.  That rate more than doubled in 2016 when the Bureau estimated that the city gained 2,306 new residents and based on the 2017 estimates, the city’s growth rate has again doubled from the previous year.

Salt Lake’s recent growth is significant because it reflects an increasing demand for multifamily and higher-density housing as many of the state’s new residents opt for city living over suburban sprawl.  The increase in residents also corresponds with the several thousand new residential units the city has added in the past few years and will continue to add in the near future.

According to Building Salt Lake’s project database, the city added around 2,000 residential units between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017.   Additionally, there are over 3,600 residential units actively under construction and another 3,600 proposed units.

While Salt Lake experienced a significant population bump, the populations in six of Salt Lake County’s 16 cities decreased.  The Bureau estimates that West Valley, Sandy, Taylorsville, Cottonwood Heights and Holladay lost residents in 2017.

Salt Lake’s population growth could be even more significant than current estimates show.  The Census Bureau has a history of both overestimating and underestimating population growth as they use building permits and birth and death records to estimate a population which doesn’t account for additional population changes.  In 2010 the Bureau estimated Salt Lake’s population to be 184,448, almost 2,000 fewer people than the official population of 186,440 reported in the 2010 Census.

The top ten largest cities in Utah remain the same as last year.  Of the ten largest cities all but Sandy and West Valley had population increases in 2017.

2017 Population Estimates by the numbers: (based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau)

Salt Lake County 2017 Population Estimates by Municipality:


Utah cities with the largest population increase in 2017

Estimated 2017 population increase
Salt Lake City5,891
Saratoga Springs2,947
St. George2,774
South Jordan2,275
The five Utah cities that added the most residents in 2017 based on U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.


Utah's Largest Cities in 2017

City2017 Population Estimate
Salt Lake City200,544
West Valley136,170
West Jordan113,905
St. George84,405
South Jordan70,954
The ten largest cities in Utah based on the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 population estimates.


2017 Population Estimates Salt Lake County

2017 Population Estimate2016 Population Estimate2016-2017 Difference2016-2017 Percent Growth2010 Population2010-2017 Difference2010-2017 Percent Growth
Salt Lake City200,544
West Valley City136,170136846-676-0.5%129,4806,6905.2%
West Jordan113,905113,484421-0.4%103,71210,1939.8%
South Jordan70,95468,6792,2753.3%50,41820,53640.7%
Cottonwood Heights33,99634,232-236-0.7%33,4335631.7%
South Salt Lake24,95624,6692871.2%23,6171,3395.7%
The estimated population growth of Salt Lake County cities (populations over 10,000) based on the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 population estimates.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at