The dramatic population growth Idaho’s vibrant economy fueled during the first half of the 1990s will not slow in the second half despite indications that the economy is expanding at a slower pace, according to new Census Bureau figures.
The new estimates project Idaho’s population increasing 15.7 percent from 1995 to 2000, a growth rate second only to Nevada’s at 22.3 percent.
That would push the state’s population from 1,163,500 at the middle of 1995 to 1,346,500 at the turn of the century.
After seeing its population stagnant at just under 1 million during the recession and its aftermath that dominated the 1980s, the number of Idaho residents increased 15.6 percent during the first half of this decade as Idaho’s economy boomed. It was one of the biggest growth rates in the nation.
With it came significant increases in personal income, and while a large portion was the result of more people, the state economy was able to generate the new employment needed to sustain the expansion.
It intensified the pressure on state and local services, particularly education and the criminal justice system, at the same time at least a vocal minority was beginning to again demand tax cuts, especially in property taxes, and less government spending.
The new federal projections are much higher than those made this summer by state economists, who still see Idaho growing more than twice as fast as the nation overall but slowing from the heated expansion that marked the first five years of the 1990s.
Then, Idaho’s bright job prospects drew migrants from states where the economies were still flagging.
Now, with unemployment approaching a record low and the economies of many other states, particularly California, improved, the influx of new people to Idaho has slowed significantly.
While the Census Bureau has Idaho population increasing by an average of just more than 3 percent a year, the state’s analysts put average growth about a point lower at around 2.2 percent.