New Report Focuses on Population Growth, Future of Rural Idaho
A new report says the majority of Idaho’s growth is in its urban areas, while those 55 years and older make up the largest percent of those living in rural areas.
The report, The Future of Rural Idaho by the Idaho Department of Labor, “examines the economic and demographic challenges facing the state’s rural areas amidst the growing gulf between rural and urban centers, which are driving forces for Idaho’s economic future.”
Twin Falls was listed among the state’s urban counties, which is defined by a county’s largest city as having more than 20,000 residents. Other Idaho counties listed as “urban” include Ada, Bannock, Bonneville, Canyon, Kootenai, Latah, Madison and Nez Perce.
According to a news release by the labor department,
Job gains have also been primarily concentrated in Idaho’s urban counties, adding tens of thousands of jobs in the past decade. Most of the state’s rural counties remain below pre-recession levels of employment and earned income. Idaho’s demographics are expected to lean even more heavily toward the retirement-age population in the future.
The report itself says that while Idaho has consistently been among the fastest-growing states in the country, in recent years its population growth has become “disproportionately skewed toward urban areas.”
While rural Idaho is expected to grow, this growth is likely to be much slower than in the past, both in absolute terms and relative to growth in urban Idaho. In the 2015 to 2019 period, it is projected that 89 percent of Idaho’s growth will be concentrated in urban counties.
As a result, the report says that the prognosis for long-term labor force growth in rural Idaho is relatively weak.