The city of Hailey is now nearly three times the size of Ketchum, 2010 census data reveal. Since the last census in 2000, Ketchum has lost population while Hailey has grown by more than 28 percent. Bellevue grew by almost 22 percent.
Blaine County, population 21,376, was up 2,385 people since the 2000 census. That's a 12.6 percent increase. The Hispanic population is 4,272, up from 2,242 in 2000, a 110 percent increase. That makes Hispanics 20 percent of the total population in the county.
According to the 2010 census figures, released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Idaho grew by 273,000 over the past 10 years to 1.57 million.
"Migration [from other states] was the biggest reason for growth," said Bob Fick, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Labor. "It was the much larger share [compared to reproduction] prior to the recession, but it's slowed down dramatically since the recession hit because nobody could dump their houses."
Fick said many of the new residents have been retired people looking for a sunny climate and cheaper housing. That drove Idaho's construction industry, which almost doubled between 2003 and 2006 and in turn attracted more immigrants.
Statewide over the past decade, migration from rural to urban areas also continued. Eighty percent of the state's population growth over the decade occurred in the 11 metropolitan counties. Fick said that was due both to new arrivals settling in cities and people from rural areas looking for more opportunities.
Idaho's Hispanic population accounted for more than a quarter of the growth—74,000—to reach 176,000, or 11.2 percent of the total population. In 2000, there were just over 100,000 Hispanics in Idaho, accounting for less than 8 percent of the population.
The Boise, Idaho Falls and Coeur d'Alene metropolitan areas posted growth rates above the statewide rate of 21.1 percent. Pocatello and Lewiston, which showed little growth in the expansion but did not seem to be hit as hard during the recession, recorded single-digit percentage increases.
Also growing faster than the state overall were: Jerome and Twin Falls counties, which could be designated metropolitan areas as a result of the 2010 census; Lincoln County, which benefited from spillover growth from both the Twin Falls and Sun Valley areas; Madison County, where Brigham Young University-Idaho has attracted thousands of students; Teton County on the Wyoming border, which has been cited by a number of national publications as one of the best places in America to live; and Valley County, whose tremendous growth earlier in the decade in response to Tamarack Resort has weakened in recent years with the resort's bankruptcy.
Teton County posted the highest growth rate at 69.5 percent. Eight rural counties lost population during the 10-year period—Butte, Minidoka, Clearwater, Clark, Caribou, Bear Lake, Elmore and Shoshone. Both Shoshone and Elmore suffered the largest losses at more than 7 percent.
Seventy-three towns suffered losses in population during the 2000s, the largest—74 percent—in Clayton, east of Stanley. Clayton now has an official population of seven. It's not the smallest town in Idaho, however. That distinction belongs to Warm River, near Rexburg. It has a population of three.
Populations of Blaine County towns
- Bellevue: 2,287, up 411 people from 2000, a 21.9 percent increase.
- Carey: 604, up 91 people since 2000, a 17.7 percent increase.
- Hailey: 7,960, up 1,760 since 2000, a 28.4 percent increase.
- Ketchum: 2,689, down 314 since 2000, a 10.5 percent decrease.
- Sun Valley: 1,406, down 21 since 200, a 1.5 percent decrease.