NewsState of 208


Idaho's rural-to-urban population shift continues amid growth

Posted at 3:44 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 17:44:37-04

Idaho is seeing a population boom.

According to data from the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho had the fastest growing population in the nation between 2019 and 2020--and much of that growth happened in the state's urban areas.
Most of the rest of the country saw growth slow during the pandemic, but here in Idaho it was quite the opposite.

"The population growth for Idaho from 2019 to 2020 never slowed down," explained Craig Shaul, a regional economist with the Department of Labor. "Idaho, the open spaces, there's something about the attractiveness for people outside of the state that felt this was still a great place to go to during the challenges of a pandemic."

Nationwide, there are 3,093 cities with populations larger than 10,000. When those cities are ranked based on their percentage growth between 2019 and 2020, eight of the top 200 fastest-growing cities are in Idaho — Kuna (43), Post Falls (46), Star (55), Eagle (65), Meridian (70), Nampa (151) Ammon (167) and Caldwell (171) — all with growth rates ranging from 7.5% to 3.5%.

Experts say while many people moving to urban areas are from out of state, a big chunk of that number is people moving away from Idaho's rural areas. Data shows about 70.5% of Idaho’s residents lived in cities in 2020 compared to 61.2% in 1980. In 2020, eight Idaho cities had populations greater than 50,000. In 2000, only four Idaho cities had more than 50,000 residents. In 1980, only Boise’s population exceeded the 50,000 threshold and in 1960, no Idaho city had more than 35,000 residents.

"The total number of people living in Idaho’s 200 incorporated cities grew 2.4% between 2019 and 2020, faster than the state’s 2.1%. Idaho’s cities continue to be magnets drawing population from outside the state and from Idaho’s rural areas," the report from the Department of Labor reads. "Idaho’s s eight cities with populations of more than 50,000 grew 2.3% between 2019 and 2020, while Idaho’s 177 smallest cities (with populations below 10,000) grew slower at 1.7%. The 15 medium-sized cities grew fastest — 2.9%."

As Idaho News 6 has reported, Idaho's economy has recovered faster than almost anywhere in the nation.