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Census Bureau puts Boise on new list of fast-growing metro areas. See where it landed

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The 2020 census "will be unlike any other in our nation's history" and save billions of dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency says it will use different innovative tools to get the most accurate and cost effective count. This me
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The 2020 census "will be unlike any other in our nation's history" and save billions of dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The agency says it will use different innovative tools to get the most accurate and cost effective count. This me

As if we needed more evidence of the Treasure Valley’s growth, the U.S. Census Bureau weighed in Thursday, adding more superlatives to the ones already stacking up.

In a ranking of metropolitan areas, the Boise region is the seventh fastest-growing in the nation, up from 17th a year earlier, according to the bureau. The ranking is based on the percentage increase in population between July 2016 and July 2017.

Sure, Forbes magazine ranked the Boise area No.1 less than a month ago. Lest you scream, “fake news,” the Census Bureau used a different yardstick, one that included only population. Forbes used an index built by Moody’s Analytics that also included employment, wages and other criteria.

In 2016, the Boise metropolitan area had 690,810 people, the Census Bureau said. One year later, that number had jumped 2.8 percent, to 709,845. The area includes Ada, Canyon, Boise, Gem and Owyhee counties.

The Coeur D’Alene region was No. 5 on the Census Bureau list, up from 15th a year earlier, with growth of 2.9 percent. In case you’re wondering, St. George, Utah, and environs topped the list, jumping 4 percent.

The growth resulted mostly from people moving into the area, not births. Or as the Census Bureau put it: “Net domestic migration is the driving factor behind all of the top 10 fastest-growing metro areas that rose in rank — St. George, Utah; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Greeley, Colorado; Lakeland, Florida; and Boise, Idaho.”

Idaho was the fastest-growing state in the same period, the Census Bureau reported in December. The agency estimates Idaho’s population last July at 1,716,943 people.

Using that Census data, the state Department of Labor weighed in Thursday too. The department calculated that Idaho added 36,917 people, or 101 people per day.

Not surprisingly, Ada County added the most people – 12,580, or 34 people per day.

Scot Oliver, executive director of Idaho Smart Growth, pointed out another salient fact: While a small number of Idaho counties are “growing like crazy,” much of the state is either holding steady or losing population.

“A good percentage of our towns are not seeing the growth,” Oliver said, “and it creates a huge political conundrum. How do you fund education? These are big issues. It’s not just where do we put the next 1,000 people.”

In fact, while Ada, Canyon and Kootenai counties added the most new residents – Canyon with 5,588 people, Kootenai with 4,493 – two of Idaho’s 44 counties lost population, and nine grew 1 percent or less, according to the state.

In Idaho’s more urban areas, Oliver said, “we’ve been building a place people want to move to – here, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Coeur d’Alene. … The price of success is you run the risk of damaging what brought people here in the first place. It’s a nice problem to have. But it’s still a problem.”

Ada County’s population grew 2.8 percent to 456,849. Canyon County grew 2.6 percent to 216,699. Boise County grew 2.8 percent to 7,290. Gem County’s grew 2.4 percent to 17,379. Owyhee County’s grew 2.3 percent to 11,628.

Maria L. La Ganga: 208-377-6431, @marialaganga

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