Population growth is down in Idaho County for 2013, according to U.S. Census estimates. But what’s the story behind the numbers? Kathryn Tacke, regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor, broke out the details.
Net Natural Increase
“Most populations grow even when there’s no in-migration, because of net natural increase (the difference between births and deaths). But some counties that have aging populations, have net natural decrease (deaths exceed births),” said Tacke. “Idaho County’s population is considerably older than the average Idaho county’s population. With a higher proportion of older people, its death rate tends to be higher. In addition, since the recession began in 2007, birth rates fell in most counties in the U.S. Birth rates just started to move back to their normal range in 2013 and 2014.”
Between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, Idaho County had no net natural increase (births exactly equaled deaths – both were 158). In the period from the April 1, 2010 Census, and July 1, 2012, Idaho County had net natural increase (births exceeded deaths by 359 to 337).
Seven Idaho counties that had net natural decrease (deaths exceeded births) between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2013: Shoshone, Clearwater, Lemhi, Washington, Boise, Nez Perce and Bonner.
“Idaho County was one of the 36 Idaho counties that had more people move out than move in (net out-migration) between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2013,” Tacke said. “Altogether, the Census Bureau estimates that 139 more people moved out than moved in, with 12 more people moving abroad than moving in from abroad and with 127 more people moving out of Idaho County to other places in the U.S. than moving from other places in the U.S.”
“There actually were people moving in before July 1, 2012,” she said, “since net out-migration between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, resulted in a loss of 172 people.”
Growth Over Time
“After falling 2.0 percent per year from 1980 to 1990, when Idaho’s forest and agricultural economies took extreme beatings, Idaho County’s economy began growing again,” Tacke said. “From 1990 to 2010, Idaho County’s population grew at the rate of 1.2 percent per year. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, Idaho County’s population grew 0.5 percent a year. So far this decade, Idaho County’s population fell at the rate of 0.3 percent a year.”
“Idaho County’s population density remains extremely low with 1.9 persons per square mile, compared to 8.0 persons per square mile in North Central Idaho, 19.5 in the State of Idaho, and 89.4 in the United States,” Tacke said. “While U.S. density increased from 42.8 in 1950 to 89.4 in 2013 and Idaho’s density grew from 7.1 to 19.4, North Central Idaho’s density grew from 5.1 to 8.0 and Idaho County’s density grew from 1.3 to 1.9.”
Six other counties in Idaho have even lower density: Clark (0.5 persons per square mile), Custer (0.9), Camas (1.0), Butte (1.2), Owyhee (1.5), Lemhi (1.7). Three counties have more than 100 persons per square mile: Ada (394.8), Canyon (337.1), and Kootenai (115.9)
“It is disappointing to see that Idaho County’s population is declining a bit. That means fewer customers for stores and service providers,” Tacke said. “And the out-migration probably reflects the relatively high unemployment that persists there, despite some improvements.”