The LDS share of the population rose by 0.0005 percent. That may seem miniscule, but it marks the first time since at least the late 1980s that the percentage did not decline, according to a Salt Lake Tribune analysis of LDS membership numbers provided to the state for demographic purposes.
Overall, members of the LDS Church make up 60.4 percent of the state's population.
University of Utah demographer Pam Perlich downplayed the trend reversal saying the share of the LDS population is "basically flat." Though she agrees with state demographer Juliette Tennert that the economic downturn has a large impact on these statistics.
During boom years, people move to the state for jobs, and many of these new Utahns are not Mormon, leading to a slow yet steady religious diversification. But in times of recession, this growth from outside the state slows. This year, the Utah Population Estimates Committee says only 1,500 people moved into the state, and as a result there are slightly more new Mormons than non-Mormons.
"People are kind of frozen in place right now because of the recession," said Perlich, who called it a "blip."
She predicts that when the economy recovers, the percentage of Utahns who are Mormon will continue to inch downward.