Some changes of note in the Idaho Census returns released this week. Nothing of great shock, but some real indicators about how Idaho is changing.
Idaho's overall population change is significant, but not stunning - 21.1%, to just over a million and a half people, about what had been widely estimated for a while now. But in some places, the population change was torrid. It will remake a lot of Idaho, and is affecting (one way or another) its politics.
Ada and Canyon counties together, for example, in 2000 together had about 430,000 people, or almost exactly a third (33.4%) of Idaho's total population. In 2010, they together fell just short of 600,000 people, making up 37.1% - a significant increase. In 2010, more than half (52.6%) of Idahoans live in just four counties - Ada, Canyon, Kootenai and Bonneville (the latter joining the ranks of the 100,000+ group for the first time). Ten years ago you needed five counties (adding in Bannock) to get to half.
Idaho is becoming more urban and suburban. Suburban especially.
Third largest city in Idaho now is officially Meridian (75,092), only a tiny dairy town little more than a generation ago. It is growing so fast that it's on track to overtake second-place Nampa during this decade. And Caldwell (46,237), which at this point can almost be called the farthest west of the Boise suburbs, jumped from ninth to sixth place on the list. The most striking jump among Idaho's larger cities may be Kuna (15,210), which went from Idaho's 27th largest city to its fourteenth. Of Idaho's 20 largest cities, seven - more than a third - are in Ada and Canyon counties. Boise's growth, at 10.7%, was healthy but unspectacular - this was a boom of the suburbs. Kootenai County accounted for three. That leaves 10 of the 20 largest cities for 42 of Idaho's 44 counties.
Leading to this: eights counties (Shoshone, Clearwater, Elmore, Minidoka, Butte, Clark, Caribou and Bear Lake) among the 44 lost population. Aside from Minidoka, these are among Idaho's smaller-population counties, among its more rural.
More suburb, less cowboy. That's the emerging Idaho.