Washington’s population growth remains among the strongest in the nation, but the sizzle - and country chic - have cooled a bit, state officials said Friday.
The state grew by 87,000 people over the past year, to a total of more than 5.5 million as of April 1. That was an increase of 1.6 percent, a slight decline from the previous year’s 1.8 percent increase.
Still, Washington was America’s ninth fastest growing state last year.
For the first half of the decade, rural and eastern parts of the state grew faster than elsewhere, but now the pendulum has shifted back to more urban growth, said Theresa Lowe, population expert for the governor’s budget office.
Eastern Washington’s strong population growth, 2.2 percent in 1995, slowed to 1.5 percent, a much sharper drop than Western Washington’s slight drop from 1.7 percent to 1.6 percent.
Cities and towns have gained nearly 22 percent in population over the last six years, more than 550,000 new residents. About 60 percent of the gains were attributed to annexation and the incorporation of Burien, Edgewood, Lakewood, Newcastle, Shoreline, University Place and Woodinville.
Five cities, Bainbridge Island (formerly Winslow), Bellevue, Bothell, Kent and Vancouver, each gained more than 10,000 residents through annexation.
The state’s three largest cities, Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane, all posted substantial gains without large annexations - 18,441, 8,336, and 10,535, respectively.
Clark County, with a growth rate of 27.5 percent, topped the state for population growth during the six-year period. The border county, with a booming high-tech industry and a diversified economy, alone accounted for more than 10 percent of the state population growth, 65,447 people.
Lowe said the next four fastest growing counties boast retirement and recreational opportunities: Jefferson, 25.9 percent; Pend Oreille, 24.5 percent; San Juan, 23.6; and Mason, 21.8 percent.
Not a single county lost population during the six-year period.
The state’s most populous counties, in descending order, are King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Clark, Kitsap, Yakima, Thurston, Whatcom and Benton.
xxxx FASTEST GROWING COUNTIES Here is a look at the state’s 20 fastest growing counties: 1. Clark, grew 27.5 percent over past six years. 2. Jefferson, 25.9. 3. Pend Oreille, 24.5. 4. San Juan, 23.6. 5. Mason, 21.8. 6. Grant, 21.2. 7. Skagit, 20.1. 8. Thurston, 19.8. 9. Whatcom, 19.6. 10. Kitsap, 18.4. 11. Stevens, 18.3. 12. Skamania, 18.2. 13. Chelan, 17.3. 14. Island, 16.8. 15. Franklin, 16.6. 16. Benton, 16.4. 17. Douglas, 16. 18. Clallam, 15.7. 19. Snohomish, 15.6. 20. Kittitas, 15.2. Three of the state’s largest counties, King, Pierce and Spokane, all posted large population gains, but because of their larger bases, the percentage increase was relatively smaller. Spokane ranked 26th, a 12.5 percent increase, based on a population growth of about 45,000. -Associated Press
This sidebar appeared with the story in the Idaho edition: GROWTH FACTS Washington’s Top 10 most populous counties, in descending order, are King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Clark, Kitsap, Yakima, Thurston, Whatcom and Benton. Three of the state’s largest counties, King, Pierce and Spokane, all posted large population gains, but because of their larger bases, the percentage increase was relatively smaller. King, for instance, grew by 121,495 people, to 1.6 million, and ranked 35th out of 39 counties in percentage growth, at 8.1 percent. Spokane ranked 26th, a 12.5 percent increase, based on a population growth of about 45,000.