Idaho’s once-sizzling population growth rate slowed for the fourth straight year in 1997 but remained among the highest in the nation, according to the Census Bureau.
The state’s population on July 1 was estimated at 1,210,232, up 22,635 from a year earlier.
That 1.9 percent annual increase was substantially below the 3.3 percent peak growth the state experienced from mid-1992 to mid-1993. But it still ranked sixth among all the states at twice the nationwide growth rate and a quarter-point higher than the rate for the western United States.
Since the last census was conducted in April 1990, Idaho’s population has soared by more than 20 percent, second only to Nevada at 39.5 percent. Utah was third at 19.5 percent.
In North Idaho, the fastest growing cities are Post Falls, Rathdrum and Hayden. Populations for those towns are estimated at 14,303, 3,409 and 7,951, respectively. Post Falls’ population jumped 95 percent from 1990 to 1996, according to Census Bureau findings released two weeks ago.
Fueling Idaho’s growth has been the population explosion in Ada and Canyon counties in the southwestern part of the state. The Census Bureau said the metropolitan statistical area that includes Boise, Nampa and Caldwell grew nearly 26 percent through mid-1996 making it the fourth-fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.
And the bulk of that growth was outside the capital city of Boise. Meridian, the state’s fastest-growing city, more than doubled its population over the six-year period, and Nampa recorded an increase of more than 32 percent.
The new state population figures mirrored the estimates state economists made earlier this fall at just over 1.2 million. But the revised statistics for previous years showed growth a little stronger than state analysts expected from mid-1992 through mid-1994 and weaker than projected after that.