Friday, June 25, 2010

Census shows slow and steady growth

Hailey, Ketchum gain in population

Express Staff Writer

Though a quarter of Idaho's municipalities lost population in 2009, Hailey and Ketchum are still growing. However, the housing market crash may be keeping them from growing faster.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday that Hailey's population rose 1.03 percent between 2008 and 2009, adding 82 people to its ranks. Ketchum added 57 people, rising 1.72 percent.

Bob Fick, communications manager for the Idaho Department of Labor, said those numbers have been affected by the housing market crash.

"What it shows is how this last recession, and the fact that it was triggered by the implosion of the housing market, has made it difficult to move," he said. "The biggest asset people have, they can't unload."

Fick said homes have lost their values and foreclosures have flooded the market. He said the recession has cut down on migration both within Idaho and from other states.

"While people may want to buy a house in Idaho," Fick said, "they have to unload the one they have in California first."

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Despite the recession, both Ketchum and Hailey posted steady growth since 2007, with Hailey's population rising by 1.69 percent and Ketchum's by 2.15 percent. Carey posted the highest numbers in Blaine County, rising 3.26 percent in the past year to reach a population of 538 residents.

Fifty-two of Idaho's 200 municipalities lost population over the last year, including Fairfield, which dropped four residents to come in at 417. However, Fairfield has grown 1.2 percent over the past two years.

According to a news release from the Department of Labor, overall population loss in the state is less than it was during the last recession from 2001 to 2002. However, it's a comedown from 2004 or 2005, when Idaho was the fastest growing state in the nation, posting growth rates of more than 2 percent.

"That's an unsustainable growth rate," Fick said, adding that the rate would have fallen as a result of state services being unable to keep up with demand.

Fick said he doesn't expect the state's population growth rate to rise any time soon.

"It's going to take a while for the housing market to get back to where it needs to be," he said.

Katherine Wutz:

Blaine County Census

The 2009 growth rates for Blaine County cities:

· Bellevue: +0.63 percent, 14 residents.

· Carey: +3.26 percent, 17 residents.

· Hailey: +1.03 percent, 82 residents.

· Ketchum: +1.72 percent, 57 residents.

· Sun Valley: +0.47 percent, 7 residents.

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