Migration into Idaho is, in some ways, a study of contrasts. While Idaho ranks 16th in the nation for state-to-state migration of people over 25 years old, 99 percent of that migration is into the Boise metro area. In 2014, 3,104 adults moved from another state into Idaho of which 3,066 moved to one of the six counties that encompass Idaho’s Treasure Valley. The only other places in Idaho that saw a positive flow from outside of the state were Coeur d’Alene (Kootenai County) and the Magic Valley, though still low. Because the Lewiston metro area straddles the state line, it was excluded from this analysis which examined only state-to-state and metro-to-state flows.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
Most adults moving into Idaho had a high school diploma but no college experience nor a post-secondary degree. In fact, for every one adult with a bachelor’s degree or higher who moved in, five adults with no more than a high school diploma moved into Idaho at the same time. This ratio improves with adults who had some college experience or an associate’s degree; for each one of these adults who moved into the state, two with no more than a high school diploma also moved in.
Which cities in Idaho gained talent and which cities lost it as a result of interstate migration in 2014?
Net migration into the Boise metro area is much different than the rest of Idaho. While high school graduates were the largest net adult population to migrate into the state, it was the second smallest in the Boise metro area. As indicated by Chart 3, all three education cohorts above the high school graduate level experienced larger gains in the Boise metro. The greatest net gain in the Boise metro was adults with some college or an associate’s degree. However, the combined number of adults migrating in with bachelor’s degrees or higher was greater than the number migrating in with some college or associate’s degrees or lower.
In 2014, only Boise and Coeur d’Alene gained adult migrants with bachelor’s degrees or higher from outside of the state. Boise was the one metro area to gain more adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher than any other education group. It was also the only one to have the greatest out-of-state gain of adults with some college or an associate’s degree. Coeur d’Alene saw the greatest increase in adults with a high school diploma or less. Twin Falls and the eastern Idaho corridor of Blackfoot, Idaho Falls and Rexburg saw an increase in the number of migrants with some college or associate’s degrees but a decrease in those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Pocatello saw only one education cohort increase – those migrants with a high school diploma or less. Two cities, Hailey and Sandpoint, lost adults from every education cohort.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
Moscow saw the largest increase of adults with a high school education or lower and adults with some college degree or an associate’s degree as a share of its total migration. This was more than offset by the exodus of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher, illustrating the “college-town” phenomenon in which people move into a community to receive an education and leave for other opportunities once they graduate.
Twin Falls, while it lost adults with both a high school education or less and a bachelor’s degree or higher, gained the second largest share of adults with some college or an associate’s degree. This is likely a result of the growth of the food processing cluster and other manufacturing in the region, where 28 percent of jobs require some college training or an associate’s degree, but only 11 percent require a bachelor’s degree.
The Boise metro area had the highest share of adults moving in with a bachelor’s degree or higher than any city in Idaho. Fifty-two percent of adult net migrants had bachelor’s degrees or higher. In fact, it is one of only three areas in the state that gained adult migrants at all from out of state.
While Idaho had a net inflow of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher, it ranked fifth out of the seven western states. Utah experienced a massive outmigration of adults with bachelor’s degrees or higher, likely as a result of that state having a high concentration of colleges and universities. Many people will go to Utah for their bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate and leave the state to work after receiving their diploma. At the same time, there was a high percentage of migrants entering the state who had high school diplomas or less.
It’s also interesting to compare the Boise metro with other states. Like Colorado and Oregon, Boise had a balanced migration that included some associate’s and technical degrees for middle skill jobs, while also having a high percentage of bachelor’s degrees or higher – degrees which are typically seen in dynamic, innovative economies. While it might not be a fair comparison to draw conclusions between these large states and Boise, it’s worth noting that, with the exception of Wyoming and Montana, the population centers of the six western states account for much of their state’s population, creating a mix of urban and rural that is not unlike the mix experienced within Ada, Boise, Elmore, Canyon, Owyhee and Gem counties, the six counties that make up the Boise area.
The story of migration into and out of Idaho is something of a study in contasts. The six southwestern Idaho counties account for 99 percent of adult net migration into and out of the state, with a mix that tilts toward bachelor’s degrees and higher.
Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455