Bringing the Economy Home

Driver’s License Data Offers Real-Time Clues About Who Is Moving To Idaho

Idaho is no stranger to population growth. The number of people in the Gem State has steadily grown from about 710,000 people in 1972 to 1.59 million in 2012. That’s a 124 percent increase.

Data show much of that growth is from migration. People leaving one state or country and move to Idaho. There are a lot of ways to measure interstate migration. We’ve mapped tax return data from the Internal Revenue Service. The U.S. Census Bureau releases annual migration estimates, and states monitor driver’s license movement.

The Idaho Department of Transportation tracks the out-of-state driver’s licenses and IDs that are surrendered here in order for a new resident to have an Idaho license. It also monitors the Idaho licenses that are surrendered across state lines. The 2012 driver’s license data we mapped, while not conclusive, gives us a clue about where people are moving to Idaho from.

Data Source: Idaho Department of Transportation | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders | Download the Data

In 2012, more Californians surrendered their driver’s licenses for an Idaho license than any other state. Washington state came in a close second.That’s not a surprise. The top 10 states from where people gave up their driver’s licenses for an Idaho license are the same 10 states we listed when using more outdated tax return data.

State of Origin
To Idaho
Out Of Idaho
Net Gain

Source: Idaho Transportation Department

Idaho law requires new residents to surrender an out-of-state driver’s license within 90 days of moving to Idaho. According to the Idaho Transportation Department, most states have a similar law. That doesn’t mean people always follow that law. A Department spokesman says new residents often wait until their old license expires before getting an Idaho card. This data also leaves out people who don’t drive.

Are you new to Idaho? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.


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