2020 census data shows Idaho was the second fastest growing state, and Meridian was the fourth fastest growing city in the country. (Map provided courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau)
The top 10 fastest growing cities, 2010-2020:
New Braunfels, Texas
South Jordan, Utah
Meridian was the fourth fastest-growing city in the country over the past decade, with its population increasing by more than 56% to reach 117,634 people, according to new 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.
That’s up from a population of 75,092 in 2010.
“I don’t think it’s much of a surprise; all of the other rankings we’ve seen over the past 10 years have put us up there as one of the best cities to grow or start a business or one of the best cities for retirement,” Meridian Chamber of Commerce CEO Sean Evans said in a telephone interview. “All of those things put us on the radar for people who are relocating, and it’s human nature to go to the place that everyone else considers the best or has the greatest living conditions.”
Meridian’s population changes were included in a huge new batch of data the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday to help states begin the redistricting process of redrawing legislative and congressional boundary lines.
The data included population totals at the state, county and smaller neighborhood levels, as well as some demographic and housing information.
A more user-friendly version of the data is expected to be released next month, census officials said during a streaming press conference Thursday. Overall, additional data collected during the 2020 census will be released in the coming weeks and months, into 2022, they said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic significantly delayed our schedule of collecting and processing the data for the 2020 census,” U.S. Census Bureau acting director Ron Jarmin said during Thursday’s press conference.
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This latest data was the second batch released by the U.S. Census Bureau. In April, officials released initial data showing the U.S. population was 331,449,281 in 2020. That report pegged Idaho’s population at 1,839,106 for 2020. That’s up by 17.3% compared to Idaho’s 2010 population of 1,567,582.
Across the country, only Utah grew at a faster rate over the previous decade. The population in Utah increased by 18.4% during that time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, Boise grew by 14.6% during the past decade and remained Idaho’s most populated city. Boise’s population increased from 205,671 in 2010 to 235,684 in 2020.
Even though Idaho experienced significant growth over the previous decade, it was not enough to gain an extra congressional seat. Idaho will continue to hold two seats in the U.S. House for the next decade.
What is the census?
The population numbers come from the 2020 Census questionnaires Americans filled out last year. The Census is a snapshot in time, representing as close to an accurate population count as possible as of April 1, 2020.
The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and is undertaken every 10 years.
The Census is important for several reasons:
- It determines the apportionment, or breakdown, of the 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives.
- It impacts the allocation of federal funding.
- It is used to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries in Idaho and other states.
“These data play an important role in our democracy and also begin to illuminate how the local and demographic makeup of our nation has changed over the past decade,” Jarmin, the acting Census director, said during Thursday’s press conference.
Nationally, growth was driven by large, metropolitan areas and the fastest growing cities were all situated in the West or in Texas.
Meridian was the only Idaho city to make the 10 fastest growing list. West Jordan, Utah, and Kent, Washington, also made the list. Four cities in Texas, two cities in Arizona and one in California also made the list.
What else did we learn about Idaho?
We’re beginning to get a better understanding of some of Idaho’s demographics based on the data gathered from questions on the Census forms. However, the U.S. Census Bureau did not release all of its data Thursday, and the data it did release can be a little hard to work with and sort through, at least initially.
Some important data is available though:
The percentage of Idahoans who identified their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino in 2020 was 13%, compared to the U.S. average of 18.7%. That represents 239,407 people out of Idaho’s population of 1,839,106.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as white alone was 82.1%, well above the U.S. average of 61.6%.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as Black or African American alone was 0.9%, well below the U.S. average of 12.4%.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as Native American or native Alaskan was 1.4%, slightly above the U.S. average of 1.1%.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as Asian alone was 1.5%, below the U.S. average of 6%.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander alone was 0.2%, which is identical to the U.S. average.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as some other race was 5.6%, compared to the U.S. average of 8.4%.
The percentage of Idahoans who identified as two or more races was 8.3%, compared to the U.S. average of 10.2%.
The percentage of Idaho housing units that were reported as occupied (as opposed to vacant) was 89.9% for 2020, just below the U.S. average of 90.3%.
The percentage of Idahoans living in institutional group quarters, such as a corrections facility or a skilled nursing home was 1.2% or 21,271 people. That’s slightly above the U.S. average of 1.1%.
The U.S. Census Bureau did not release financial or income data Thursday.
What are people saying about Meridian’s growth?
Although Meridian’s exact placement in the top 10 fastest growing cities was news Thursday, rapid growth is not.
“I don’t know if we needed the word out any more; Idaho and the Treasure Valley is definitely not a secret any more,” Evans said. “We all expected to be right up there in the rankings in terms of fastest growing or biggest growth.”
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Overall, Evans said the growth is good for business.
Since January of this year, the Meridian Chamber of Commerce has added 110 new members, Evans said.
The growth also confirms what many in Meridian and across the Treasure Valley already know — people are flocking here and commercial development and residential building are going crazy.
“The biggest challenge we face here, Treasure Valley-wide, is are we hitting the ceiling as far as the housing costs?” Evans asked. “It has definitely priced people who are local to our market out, but we are still seeing people coming in who are willing to pay market prices we feel are high here, but may be more affordable compared to where they are coming from.”
Efforts to reach officials at the city of Meridian and the office of Meridian Mayor Robert Simison were unsuccessful Thursday.
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