Posted on September 14, 2018

West Valley City Is Now ‘Minority Majority,’ Where Minority Groups Outnumber the White Population

Lee Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, September 13, 2018

Demographers say new U.S. census estimates released Thursday allow them to proclaim with confidence that West Valley City is the first large Utah city to be “minority majority,” where minorities combine to make up a majority of the population.

Minorities now make up 51.4 percent of its population of 136,166 people, while whites now account for 48.6 percent.

“It’s not a surprise. Having grown up on the west side, it’s no secret to me that [minority] growth is occurring,” said Fitisemanu, who was born in New Zealand to a Samoan father and Hawaiian mother (who had Korean and Chinese ancestry). {snip}


He and Tom Huynh, a former Vietnamese refugee who ran twice unsuccessfully for mayor, are the two (former) minorities on the seven-member city council.

Despite the new status, Fitisemanu says minority groups will always feel outnumbered. “The term ‘minority’ is a term of convenience. There is actually a lot of diversity within the groups of minorities,” so each small subset feels like it is not truly part of the majority.

By far the largest group among them is the 49,860 Latinos living in West Valley City, or 36.5 percent of its total population. West Valley City’s Latino population is larger than Salt Lake City’s, where 41,707 Hispanics live.

Among other minority groups in West Valley City are 6,997 Asians, 4,128 blacks, 3,721 Pacific islanders, 192 American Indians and 5,381 people who say they have two or more races, new census estimates say.


Andrew Wallentine, director of West Valley City’s Division of Arts and Culture, lists a few of the various nationalities and groups that have recently held events at the city’s Cultural Celebration Center.

“Many Latino countries use it,” he says, noting each has separate holidays and cultural events. “We have quite a few from the Middle East,” and he adds India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and “a fair amount of Middle Eastern countries.” It even had a large celebration recently for Jews.

Mayor Ron Bigelow says he believes minorities and immigrants are attracted to the city for several reasons.

“One, we have a bigger inventory of less costly homes,” and immigrants especially may not have a lot of money, he said.

“Second, there is already a good [minority] population here and people feel comfortable moving in” to be be near others who are like them.

Finally, Bigelow said, the city “has been fairly receptive to them coming. Do we have people who don’t want any immigrants? Yes, but the city overall has tried to be welcoming.”


A few smaller towns — mostly on Indian reservations — have previously had that status, but none nearly as large as West Valley City, the second most populous city in the state behind Salt Lake City.


{snip} Utah’s foreign-born population last year grew from 252,333 to 269,239 — an increase of nearly 17,000 people, or roughly the population of San Juan County.

People moving from other states are also increasingly diverse. And immigrants living in the state tend to have larger families — adding to those groups.


Salt Lake City already has decided to hire a census coordinator to ensure hard-to-count populations are not missed in the 2020 count.