Idaho’s 2022 county estimates indicate population growth is slowing


For Immediate Release: March 31, 2023
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Net migration was the driver behind 34,719 people added to Idaho’s population from July 2021 to July 2022, accounting for 88% of its growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released this week. The gains were mostly from domestic in-migration – people moving to Idaho from other states – rather than from another country or international in-migration.

Photo: aerial of MeridianThe bureau also reported a population growth slowdown for many counties since the height of the pandemic. The release included revised estimates for 2020 and 2021, along with components of change to explain upticks or troughs from the previous year.

The remaining share of the state’s population growth, nearly 12%, was from natural change – when births outweigh deaths. In 22 counties, deaths outweighed births, resulting in negative natural change, but those losses were offset with net migration growth. This set Idaho apart from the almost three-fourths of all counties nationally that reported more deaths than births, or natural decline.

Since the decennial census – April 2020 – net migration accounted for 91% of population change in Idaho, slightly above the 88% of the past year.

Gooding County was the only Idaho county to experience a net decline in people, attributable to 64 more deaths than births, offset somewhat by 59 more people who moved to the county.

Three northern Idaho counties were among the top five with the highest growth rates. While smaller populations usually have greater swings in rates, a medium-sized county — Bonner — grew by a significant leap of 3.6% (Table 1).Table: Five fastest-growing counties in Idaho from April 20 - July 2022

There were 14 counties that grew at a faster pace than the previous year’s estimate, a proxy for the pandemic, and they were distributed across the state: Bannock, Benewah, Bingham, Boundary, Clark, Elmore, Franklin, Fremont, Gem, Idaho, Jerome, Nez Perce, Oneida and Power counties.

Blaine County was the only Idaho county to lose population from domestic in-migration but was offset by gaining five times that loss from international immigrants. Ada County added over 500 people from international in-migration, ranking highest in this narrow category among the state’s 44 counties. Note that some international migration is derived from American citizens returning from jobs abroad.

Despite inflation, rising mortgage rates and housing costs, growth was still brisk among the counties that experienced a slower influx of people. In some areas growth has returned to more sustainable rates, slowing more dramatically in counties with high levels of tourism such as Blaine, Valley and Teton counties. These counties require additional service workers yet lack affordable housing.

Those counties with the highest births over deaths included some higher population areas and accounted for 99% of Idaho’s net natural change (Table 2).

Table: Top five counties with natural change component of population growth

The nine urban counties, defined as having a city with a population of 20,000 or greater, reported a slower growth rate (1.6%) than the 35 rural counties (+2.3%) and the state (1.8%). This aligns with national reports of large metropolitan areas experiencing displacement to areas just outside the periphery of the city — the exurbs.

Idaho’s 2022 population estimate of 1.8% was released at the end of 2022 and was the second highest growth rate after Florida. Idaho ranked 38th largest in the nation.

U.S. Census plans to release city and metropolitan/micropolitan statistical area population estimates this summer.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s full release can be found here:

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Table: Annual estimates of the resident population for counties in Idaho: April 2, 2020, to July 1, 2022