Bringing the Economy Home

Rural Idaho Continues To Shrink

Rural Idaho counties are becoming, well, rural-er.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show populations continue to decline in rural parts of the state.

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Fairfield, Idaho

Census numbers released this week look at population movement between 2010 and 2011.  According to the Idaho Department of Labor’s analysis, more counties lost population over that year than at any other time since the 1980s.

“Twenty-nine of the 44 counties including five metro counties saw more people move out than move in from mid-2010 to mid-2011 as high unemployment and home-foreclosure rates persisted.

Eighteen of the 33 rural counties saw population decline between July 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, which all but erased any population increase in the rural part of the state. Statewide, Idaho’s population rose 13,883, but only 20 of those additional people found their way to rural communities, the Census Bureau figures showed.”  – Idaho Dept. of Labor

The department says 11 urban counties accounted for nearly 100 percent of the population growth from 2010-2011.

Idaho’s total population grew less than a percentage point, 0.9 percent, over the year, reportedly the smallest annual increase since 1988.

“In 1980, less than 56 percent of the population lived in the 11 counties that make up today’s five metropolitan areas. In 2011, those 11 counties held over 65 percent of the population.” – Idaho Dept. of Labor

The Census data also looks at the fastest growing metro and micro areas.  The only Idaho metro area to make the fastest growing list is Coeur d’Alene, ranking 42nd of 50.

Alivia Metts is a regional economist based in Post Falls.  She says when in-migration starts to pick up, wages tend to increase at the same time.  But in Coeur d’Alene, Metts says that hasn’t happened.  So, she thinks the population growth is really a growth in second home and vacation home owners.

Fastest Growing Metro Areas:

      1. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA
      2. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX
      3. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA
      4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
      5. Raleigh-Cary, NC

Fastest Growing Micro Areas:

      1. Williston, ND
      2. The Villages, FL
      3. Andrews, TX
      4. Dickinson, ND
      5. Dunn, NC


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