Connecting state and local government leaders

The Gem State Is Now the Nation’s Fastest Growing

Boise, idaho

Boise, idaho Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

Newly released U.S. Census Bureau figures show growth—and population loss—in the 50 states.

Domestic migration made Idaho and Nevada, respectively, the first and second fastest-growing states in the nation, according to new population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

From July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, Idaho’s population grew by 2.2 percent, to 1.7 million residents. Nevada grew by 2 percent.

What’s driving the growth in Idaho?

The Spokesman Review reported in June:

“A lot of it has to do with cost of living and natural amenities that are bringing in, especially, retirees,” said Sam Wolkenhauer, regional labor economist in Post Falls for the state department. “We’re kind of seeing this in the housing market—it’s really hot right now.”

Wolkenhauer’s forecasting model predicts that the Gem State’s population will grow by 15.3 percent from 2015 to 2025, climbing to 1.9 million.

Utah, which grew 1.9 percent from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, is the nation’s third fastest-growing state according to the new census figures, but for a different reason: “Babies. Lots of babies,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Washington state and Florida were the fourth and fifth fastest-growing states, seeing increases of 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

It wasn’t too long ago that North Dakota was the nation’s fastest-growing state, fueled by the oil- and gas-drilling boom that drew people from other states.

But no longer. North Dakota’s population decreased by 155 people.  

The Forum News Service reported this week:

The decrease is not a surprise, said Kevin Iverson, manager of the North Dakota Census Office. Depressed oil prices caused a slowdown in the mid-2010s after the state saw flocks of people migrate to North Dakota to tap the boom. After prices lingered around $100 a barrel for most of the first half of the decade, they dropped from $109 a barrel in June 2014 to less than $30 a barrel in January 2016.

North Dakota was among eight states to lose population. Illinois saw the largest numeric decline (33,703 residents) while Wyoming saw the largest percentage population decline (1 percent).

Overall states in the South and West continued to lead U.S. population growth from 2016 to 2017, according to the Census Bureau. In 2017, 38.0 percent of the nation’s population lived in a Southern state and 23.8 percent lived in the Western state.

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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