The number of people moving out of rural Idaho increased between mid-2008 and mid-2009 as the recession continued its reach into every corner of the state, according to a study released by the Idaho Department of Labor.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that a study of 23 rural Idaho counties showed that more than 3,200 more people moved out of those counties than moved in during the year-long period that ended in June 2009. It was the largest number of counties recording emigration since 26 of the 44 counties experienced it between mid-2000 and mid-2001 during the last national recession.
For 10 of those 23 counties losing people in 2009, natural population growth—births exceeding deaths—more than offset the emigration. But the other 13 posted actual declines in population, ranging from 11 in Clark County to 323 in Elmore County. Only four counties saw population declines a year earlier.
Blaine County was one of 31 counties that saw a modest increase from 2008 to 2009, with a population rise of 50 people, or 1.1 percent. No county experienced more than 3.9 percent growth (Jefferson County).
Statewide, Idaho's population rose by nearly 19,000, or 1.2 percent. While that is substantially lower growth than during earlier times of economic expansion, the rate was still the 12th strongest among the states.
While some of those leaving the rural areas also left the state, many relocated to the major urban areas of Idaho, continuing a trend that has marked Idaho's population movement for a number of years.
Just over 29 percent of the population growth was in Ada County, the state's largest. Neighboring Canyon County, the second largest, claimed 13.6 percent of the growth, while Kootenai County in the panhandle got 13 percent. Bonneville County had 11 percent and Bannock County 7 percent.