March 18, 1998 in Nation/World

Growth High, But Slowing

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Two North Idaho counties rank in the top 10 statewide in population growth from 1990 to 1997, the U.S. Census Bureau has announced.

Kootenai County’s population is 98,767, up 28,972 in those seven years, the second-largest increase in numbers in the state. Ada County - the state’s most populous with 267,168 residents - gained the most people, 62,000.

When measuring percentage growth, Kootenai County ranks third from 1990 to ‘97 with a 41.5 percent population increase. Bonner County is fifth at 30.6 percent.

Overall, the five counties of North Idaho gained some 40,000 residents, with births accounting for 14,180 of that number.

In some counties, however, babies were about all that kept the population numbers steady.

In Shoshone County, for example, 1,287 babies were born between 1990 to 1997, but only 103 residents moved to the area.

Benewah County counted 902 births and inmigration of 792 people.

However, the overall rate of growth is slowing in the Panhandle.

“We still have very strong population growth,” said Kathyrn Tacke of Job Service. “It’s just not the enormous growth we saw in the early 1990s.”

And “we still have a rate of growth that far exceeds other regions of the United States,” Tacke said.

Slower growth is evident in the numbers of building permits. In Post Falls, for example, the number of building permits for single-family homes peaked at 436 in 1993. In 1997, that number had dropped to 296.

“If the economy stays steady, I think it will stay at 250 to 300 houses a year,” said Wayne Hammond of the Post Falls building department.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: North Idaho’s growing counties

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