- Associated Press - Saturday, June 25, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Census data shows Utah’s population is young and growing more diverse.

The new U.S. Census data puts the state’s median age under 31 years old, about seven years younger than the rest of the country.

Asians are the fastest-growing minority group in the state. The population almost reached 71,000 people in 2015, representing nearly 30 percent growth in five years.

“We can see that since 2010, the regions of in-migration for Utah have shifted away from Latin America and much more toward Asia,” Pam Perlich, University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute director of demographic research, told the Deseret News. “About half of our foreign-born population that entered since 2010 is from Asia, and the proportion from Latin America is down.”

Utah’s Latino population grew more than 14 percent over the last five years.

The number of Hispanic residents surpassed 400,000 people last year.

Perlich told the Salt Lake Tribune that the growing group of Hispanic residents may not be visible statewide. Some areas of the state tend to lack diversity, and residents can be segregated by their occupations.

“So if people are not seeing them in their workplace, or not in their neighborhoods or not in their churches, they could be under the mistaken impression that, ‘Hey, I hear about Hispanics, but I don’t see any,’” she said.

Perlich said schools could be getting some relief come fall in accommodating growing class sizes. She said the state known for large families has seen a decrease in births since 2008.

“We should be able to get a kind of a breather there,” Perlich said. “Exactly what those numbers will be depends upon the migration patterns because we’ve got better employment growth here than a lot of other places.”

Utah residents who are at least 65 years old represent a growing group while remaining the country’s second-smallest population of retirement-age people.

“For the foreseeable future, growth is really our constant companion here in Utah,” Perlich said. “The population continues to age … but we also continue to see this place as a place of economic opportunity and educational opportunity and quality of life.”

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