Idaho’s economy and labor market have undergone significant changes in the last 10 years. The state has experienced a population boom after its recovery from the Great Recession, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Population growth and the labor market
One of the most striking features of Idaho’s economy in the last decade is the surge in its population. According to the Census Bureau, from 2012 to 2022, Idaho witnessed an increase of 343,000 residents inside its borders raising its total population to 1.939 million. If all of the additional residents collected themselves to start a new city in Idaho, it would be 45% larger than Boise, the state’s largest city with a population in 2022 of 236,632. This thought experiment demonstrates not only the magnitude of the population increase but the incredible economic change it drove.
Where does the water from our faucet go? Or maybe the water from the toilet?
Wastewater travels down our pipes to individual water districts across Idaho, where it is treated by Idaho Rural Water Association workers.
As a leader of dedicated employees in wastewater treatment, the organization trains and creates specialists who play a critical role in providing healthy water for our communities.
Job vacancies in the wastewater treatment industry are tough to fill. Idaho’s retirement rate in this industry is slightly above average compared to the United States, according to Idaho Department of Labor economist Jan Roeser.
In total – 40% over the national average.
But on the other end of the spectrum, there are many people employed as water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators in Idaho — 1,410 to be exact. Breaking that up geographically, there are about 500 employed operators in rural Idaho.
U.S. military veterans play an important role in the Idaho workforce and in their local communities. Sometimes veterans tend to be older than their nonveteran counterparts and face a unique set of challenges. Their armed services training often gives veterans specialized and transferrable skills that are marketable in the civilian economy. The employment services offered by the Idaho Department of Labor and its partner agencies also help our veteran population manage some of the challenges they face in the workforce.
Veteran demographics by the numbers
The percentage of Idahoans aged 18 and over claiming veteran status is 8.6%, about 1.3 times the national average . Wartime-era veterans are represented in Figure 1. From a total of 122,000 veterans, this leaves a balance of 16,838 veterans living in Idaho who fall under the “other wartime service” category, including service in Afghanistan, the War on Terror and later conflicts.
Idaho’s population growth has been growing fast – so quickly that the state had the No. 1 growth rate in the nation at 21.5 % from 2012-2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Close to 90% of the state’s population growth stems from rapid net domestic migration into Idaho and not from Idaho residents suddenly deciding to have lots of babies. Idaho’s birth rate of 11.8 births per 1,000 population in 2021 (12th highest in the nation) was a 29% decline compared with 16.6 in 2007, fourth highest in the nation at the time). The rate remains higher than most of Idaho’s bordering neighbors, such as Oregon at 9.6 (fourth lowest), Montana at 10.2 and Washington at 10.8. Nationwide, birth rates per 1,000 population have decreased 23%, from 14.3 in 2007 to 11.0 in 2021 .
Migration is contributing to a higher number of school-age students in Idaho today than expected based on Idaho births alone but is still unable to reverse the trend that Americans in general are having significantly fewer babies than in the past.
For Immediate Release: June 13, 2023
Media Contact: Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov
The U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates for Idaho cities and towns for 2021-2022 – confirming that state population is still growing.
Boise’s net population loss came as a surprise considering the many top 10 lists curating it as the place to land. Boise is Idaho’s largest city and center of government with a variety of multi-family housing under construction or in the design/permitting phase. New subdivisions pepper the southern border of the city and annexation is underway to include 350 acres near the planned $15 billion Micron fabrication plant.
Six Idaho cities contributing the most growth are in southwestern Idaho, three are in northern Idaho and one is in south central Idaho. Of the top 20 largest cities, only three have populations of more than 100,000 — Boise, Meridian and Nampa (Table 1).
For Immediate Release: March 31, 2023
Media Contact: Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov
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.
The 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.
A wee bit of St. Patrick’s Day statistics
Every March 17, Ireland venerates the St. Patrick with a public holiday on the anniversary of his death. While not a public holiday in the U.S., it is a day of celebration for many. It is the occasion to have a little ‘craic’ (news/gossip/entertainment) in homage to the Irish with food and drink that, if not Irish, is perhaps green in color, all while wearing green clothes. In the world of statistics and demographics, it’s a reason for another analysis highlighting the local connection — or lack thereof — to the Emerald Island.
A total of 31.5 million people in the U.S. (9.5%) claim Irish ancestry and outnumber the current Irish population by six to one. This means that every person in Ireland has six people in the U.S. (on average) eager to tell them they’re Irish, too, and to ask if they knew their sweet ancestor born in the County Kerry, County Mayo, County Limerick or (pick your county of Ireland here).
IRS data show urban outflows to exurban counties
In 2020 Ada County posted a net migration loss within Idaho. Simply stated, more Idaho residents moved out than moved in.
Inbound migration to the state’s most populous county from other parts of Idaho totaled 8,039, while outbound migrants numbered 10,610 for a net migration loss of 2,571. Where did they go?
Figure 1: Ada County largest net migration losses, 2020
Source: IRS data accessed through Lightcast.io, Feb. 14, 2023
With the exception of outflows to Idaho County, the largest number of Ada County residents migrated to counties within the commute shed – an area within a 30-minute commute – with 1,874 leaving for neighboring Canyon County.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Idaho’s July 2022 population at 1,939,033, an increase of 1.8% from July 2021, ranking it second nationally in percentage growth. Idaho grew about four times faster than the national growth rate of 0.4%.
The new Census estimate shows Idaho’s population growth is slowing down to 2016 levels, falling below its five-year average growth rate of 2.3%. For the first time in five years, the state was not in the top spot for new residents.
Florida outpaced all 50 states and the District of Columbia adding 416,754 new residents — up 1.9%.
Numerically, Idaho is 10th in the nation for its population increase of 34,719 people. In 2021 the state ranked ninth in the nation and swelled by more than 50,000 people.
For Immediate Release: June 1, 2022
Media Contact: Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov or Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov
Four southwestern Idaho cities ranked in the top five slots for population growth in the state from 2020 to 2021 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 Vintage Population Estimates.* Idaho Falls, ranked fourth and was the lone city outside of southwestern Idaho to rank in the top five.
Boise remained Idaho’s largest city, followed by Meridian, Nampa, Idaho Falls and Caldwell. Meridian edged out Nampa as Idaho’s second largest city in 2014 with the population difference increasing each year. Rankings for the top 15 Idaho cities by population size are shown in Table 1, with one change from 2020 — Kuna displaced Moscow for the No.13 spot.
Nationally, Meridian, Caldwell and Nampa ranked 13, 14 and 15 of the fastest-growing cities of 50,000 residents or more across the U.S., each at or above 5% growth rate.