The latest population numbers show that 51 percent of Idahoans were born elsewhere.  The number is even higher for older residents, with 69 percent of retirees being born elsewhere.  I found the numbers on a chart embedded in a story on the Washington Post website.  Idaho remains among the top destinations for retirees.  Florida remains number one and is also a popular moving destination for all age demographics.  Puerto Rico and Maine have the next highest percentage of retirees but for entirely different reasons.  One is a cold place and the other is warm.  Both are seeing their young people move away in droves.

This is why some growth is a good thing when it comes to younger arrivals.  Older people need more services and often much more expensive services.  Younger walkers help with the costs by paying local and state taxes.

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So, while Idaho may be growing too fast for your personal taste, we need younger people to close the gap with the large population of the no longer employed.  This is a two-legged stool.  We need to retain our recent graduates and we need to recruit even more.

I remember a couple of conversations I had that impacted this subject.  Several years ago, a teenager explained her friends couldn’t wait to pack up and move to California.  If they eventually ended up there, I hope they found room on the ark!  We need jobs for the young and we need jobs that can allow them to start families.

That was the second conversation.  When I first met former State Representative Maxine Bell, I told her I was impressed with Idaho’s low jobless rate.  She replied that the available jobs were fine but we need to move beyond the service industry and provide more long-term opportunities.  The challenge remains the same almost a decade later.

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