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Rural Idahoans staying put through recession

BOISE - Rural Idaho residents have been staying put through the current recession, unlike the previous recession when they moved in large numbers to the state’s urban areas.

“The length and depth of the current recession … has severely impeded the ability, and the rationale, for people to move,” Idaho’s Department of Labor reported today.

The latest U.S. Census figures for Idaho cities show that from mid-2007 to mid-2008, 69 of Idaho’s 200 cities either saw no population growth or modest population losses. In the 45 cities that lost population, the numbers mostly were single-digit - the largest was Bonners Ferry, which lost 37 people.

By contrast, in the 2001 recession, Idaho saw significant population movement from its rural areas to its larger cities. More than 100 of the state’s smallest cities either didn’t grow or lost population in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

State labor analysts said the 2001 recession didn’t bring as much job loss in Idaho as the current downturn. In the Boise metropolitan area alone, the state’s largest job market, 24,000 jobs have been lost in the past two years. Another 17,500 have been lost statewide.

Idaho’s population of 1.52 million in 2008 was up 1.8 percent from 2007. The state’s largest city, by far, is still Boise, with a population of 205,300, up 1.3 percent.

Coeur d’Alene is sixth-largest, with 43,360 residents, up 2.7 percent, while Post Falls is the 11th largest, at 26,460; its population grew by 4.2 percent. Sandpoint is 23rd, having grown by 1.6 percent since 2007 to reach a population of 8,337.

Idaho’s second-largest city is Nampa, at 80,362, and third is Meridian, 66,916.

Small North Idaho cities held steady. Clark Fork’s population of 578 stayed exactly the same from 2007 to 2008, as did the populations of Hope, Oldtown and Ponderay.

Dover, East Hope, Hayden Lake, Priest River and Wardner each gained one resident from 2007 to 2008; Fernan Lake Village and Osburn each lost one. Rathdrum gained 26 residents, for a total of 6,821. Wallace lost four, at 861, and Dalton Gardens gained 8 residents to rise to 2,389. Harrison was up by two, at 284; Hauser lost five, at 791; Kellogg gained six residents, for a total of 2,228; Moyie Springs gained six, rising to 727; and Mullan lost four, down to 748.

Plummer gained eight residents, at 997; Spirit Lake added 28, at 1,730; and St. Maries drew 25 new residents at 2,644.

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