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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah is the third-fastest growing state in the country thanks to a high birth rate, U.S. census data found.

Utah follows only Idaho and Nevada in population growth since last year, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.

The state’s population grew by more than 57,000 people between July 2016 and July 2017, pushing Utah’s total population to 3.1 million.

The census found most of Utah’s growth came from “natural increase,” meaning that births outpaced deaths. But at least one expert is skeptical about that data.

Pam Perlich, director of demographics at the University of Utah, said a state-funded survey found there were fewer births in the state this year than last year, which contradicts the census data.

The federal report, based on mathematical predictions, estimated the state had 379 more births in 2017 than 2016. While the state’s survey found that 1,202 fewer babies were born during the same time.

“We think they’re not getting that right,” Perlich said. “We have better local data than they do.”

Regardless, both the census data and state survey concluded that births remain the primary cause for growth.

The census highlights people moving in from other states as another major player in Utah’s population growth. With the state boasting a healthy economy, people from across the country have moved to Utah in seek of jobs.

Idaho was the country’s fastest growing state, with a 2.2 percent population increase, the census found. Nevada followed at a 2 percent increase, then Utah at a 1.9 percent increase and Washington state at a 1.7 percent increase.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,