The geography of Utah’s migration

Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas) and Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix) sent most migrants to Utah from 2015-2019

An analysis by demographers at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute details how residents move in and out of each county in Utah, forming a pattern of migration flows unique to their region and time. Each of Utah’s 29 counties experience in-migration and out-migration, and a closer look at county-level patterns reveals geographic ties and trends unique to each county.

“Our most recent analysis allows us to answer the most frequently asked questions about Utah’s migration patterns,” said Gardner Institute Senior Demographer Emily Harris. “These include topics such as: ‘What counties are sending migrants to Utah? Which counties receive these out-of-state migrants? Are Utahns leaving the state? And if so, where are they going?’ The data confirm Utah has strong western migration ties to neighboring states, and that county migration patterns vary greatly from overall state migration patterns.”

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • Strong Western Migration Ties – Utah sends and receives the most out-of-state migrants to and from Clark County, NV; Maricopa County, AZ; King County, WA; and Los Angeles County, CA.
  • Four Utah Counties Send and Receive 75% of Out-of-State Migrants – Dominant flows link Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, and Washington counties to other states.
  • In-State Migrants Are Just as Prevalent as Out-of-State Migrants – Each year, 3% of Utah residents move in from other states, but another 3% of Utahns move to a new county within the state.
  • 18 Utah Counties Lost More Residents Than They Gained to In-State Migration – Salt Lake, Summit, and Uintah counties saw the highest net out-migration to other counties in Utah.
  • Salt Lake and Utah Counties Exchange the Most Migrants – Utah’s largest migration flows link these two counties, resulting in an even trade of residents.
  • Different County Dynamics – While Utah County gained most of its in-migrants from other states, Tooele County’s migrants overwhelmingly relocated from other counties within Utah.

The full report and accompanying county-to-county profiles are now available online.