Census finds more people leaving rural Idaho

IBR Staff//March 24, 2010//

Census finds more people leaving rural Idaho

IBR Staff//March 24, 2010//

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The number of people moving out of rural Idaho increased between mid-2008 and mid-2009 as the recession continued its reach into every corner of the state.

The U.S. Census Bureau on March 23 estimated that 23 rural Idaho counties saw more people move out than move in during the 12 months through June 2009, the Idaho Department of Labor said in a release. It was the largest number of counties recording out-migration since 26 of the 44 counties experienced it between mid-2000 and mid-2001 during the last national recession.

More than 3,200 more people moved out of those counties than moved in from mid-2008 to mid-2009, three times the revised number of out-migrants recorded a year earlier by just 13 counties, according to the Census Bureau estimates. The period between mid-2007 and mid-2008 included the some of the strongest employment months Idaho has experienced even though the economy was beginning to slow, Idaho labor officials said.

For 10 of those 23 counties losing people in 2009, natural population growth – births exceeding deaths – more than offset the out-migration. But the other 13 posted actual declines in population ranging from 11 in Clark County to 323 in Elmore County. Only four counties saw population declines a year earlier.

Statewide, Idaho’s population rose by nearly 19,000, or 1.2 percent. While that was substantially lower growth than during the expansion, the rate was still the 12th strongest among the states.

While some of those leaving the rural areas also left the state, many relocated to the major urban areas of Idaho, continuing the trend that has marked Idaho’s population movement for a number of years, the Idaho Department of Labor said.

Just more than 29 percent of the population growth was in Ada County, the state’s largest. Neighboring Canyon County, the state’s second largest county, claimed 13.6 percent of the population growth while Kootenai County in the Panhandle got 13 percent. Bonneville County had 11 percent and Bannock County 7 percent.

Jefferson County in the Idaho Falls metropolitan area recorded the highest growth rate between 2008 and 2009 at 3.9 percent. Teton County along the Wyoming border north of Idaho Falls and Jerome County north of Twin Falls also had growth rates over 3 percent.

Valley County, which saw the national recession compounded by the failure of the Tamarack resort, posted the highest loss at 2.2 percent. Fourteen counties grew faster than the statewide rate.

Despite the slow 2008-2009 growth, Canyon and Madison counties remained among the fastest-growing counties in the nation during the decade, the Idaho Department of Labor said. Canyon ranked 50th among counties with 10,000 people or more at 42 percent, and Madison, which saw two-year Ricks College evolve into Brigham Young University-Idaho, ranked 58th at just less than 40 percent.