Recent population estimates for 2019 show Idaho’s cities in general have been thriving although small towns in many rural areas have not shared in the growth.
The data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows the population living in Idaho’s 200 incorporated cities grew 2.3 percent from 2018-2019, faster than the state’s 2.1 percent growth.
The bureau also released housing unit growth across the state, which also grew 2.1 percent for the year.
Population Changes 2018-2019
Meridian added the most population in Idaho between 2018 and 2019, adding 7,697 residents, while Nampa added 3,064 and Caldwell added 2,003. Boise and Meridian were the only two cities with more than 100,000 residents, though Nampa was not far behind with just 3,064 residents fewer than 100,000.
The population of Twin Falls reached a milestone in 2019 — growing above 50,000 becoming the eighth Idaho city with a population above 50,000.
Idaho’s 15 medium-sized cities – those between 10,000 and 50,000 residents – grew fastest at 2.8 percent on average, while the state’s 177 smallest cities – those with populations below 10,000 – grew considerably slower at 1.7 percent.
Between 2018 and 2019, 12 Idaho cities grew faster than 5 percent, 34 grew between 2 and 5 percent, 123 grew less than 2 percent and 31 cities lost population. The largest cities that lost population were American Falls (4,315), St. Anthony (3,553), Orofino (3,099), Shoshone (1,502), Hansen (1,284), Kamiah (1,244) and Ashton (1,050).
Population Changes 2010-2019
Meridian added the most population between 2010 and 2019 — 39,069 residents — while Boise added 23,288 and Nampa added 17,720.
Between 2010 and 2019, Meridian was the fifth fastest-growing large city — populations above 50,000 — in the United States. The fastest-growing was Frisco, Texas, which grew 71.1 percent. Meridian grew 52.0 percent.*
Idaho added 15,591 housing units between 2018 and 2019, resulting in 2.1 percent growth.
Ada County added the most housing units — 6,230 — between 2018 and 2019, while Canyon County ranked second with and additional 2,237 and Kootenai County, third with a 2,171 increase.
The nation’s housing stock grew 6.1 percent, adding 8 million units from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019. North Dakota was the fastest-growing state in terms of housing units, with an increase of 19.7 percent. Rounding out the top five gainers were Utah (15.7 percent), Texas (13.1 percent), Idaho (12.5 percent) and Colorado (11.4 percent).
Housing Unit Growth 2010-2019
From 2010 to 2019, Idaho added 83,309 housing units, resulting in 12.5 percent growth.
Ada, Kootenai and Canyon counties added the most housing units between 2010 and 2019 at 33,159, 11,447 and 10,646, respectively.
Madison County experienced the fastest growth in housing units between 2010 and 2019 at 36.2 percent. The next highest percentage growth rates were Ada County at 20.8 percent, Kootenai County at 18.1 percent and Canyon County at 15.3 percent.
In three Idaho counties — Idaho, Shoshone and Custer — housing units grew less than 2 percent between 2010 and 2019.
Population to Housing Growth Ratio Gap
Idaho’s population growth of 14.0 percent between April 2010 and July 2019, outpaced housing units, which grew 12.5 percent, as did 18 of Idaho’s 44 countie. Residents in many of those counties have expressed great concern about a lack of affordable housing for their growing workforces.
Communities that attract many tourists, new residents and seasonal residents tended to see the biggest lags in housing growth relative to population growth. Bonner County experienced the biggest difference between population growth at 11.9 percent and housing unit growth at only 2.8 percent. Valley County was second with 15.5 percent versus 7.8 percent. Third was Teton County with 19.4 percent population growth and 12.7 percent housing unit growth. Other counties with large gaps in housing increases relative to population growth were Canyon, Adams, Blaine, Boise, Boundary, Gem, Twin Falls, Jefferson, Jerome, Bonneville and Idaho counties.
To keep the same proportion of residents to housing units that it had in 2010, Idaho would have needed to build another 10,192 housing units between 2010 and 2019.
*The data referring to the 2010 population is from the April 1 Census, while annual population data are for a year’s midpoint (July 1).