The Idaho Department of Labor and the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Tuesday that 52 of Idaho's cities lost population in 2009 and that several rural areas gained citizens. The agencies also estimated that overall, Idaho population grew by 1.3 percent from July of 2008 to July of 2009. According the release, Idaho now has a population of 1,545,801.
Mountain Home, 40 miles east of Boise and home to an Air Force base, saw the biggest drop in population among the 52 cities, though the reduction wasn't huge. The agencies believe that Mountain Home lost 84 citizens in 2009, making it the only city with a population over 10,000 to lose people. When their numbers are combined, the 52 cities lost a total of 695 citizens. When the numbers for all Idaho cities are compiled, the report shows that city population is up a modest 1.3 percentage points. Population in Idaho's vast rural areas climbed by 1 percent.
The loss in citizenry for the 52 cities paled in comparison to the recessionary period of late-2001, in which Idaho cities lost more about 1,500 people. The department believes that the collapse in the housing market is partially to blame for keeping recessionary moves down. "Residential real estate essentially held its value during and after the 2001 recession while the implosion of the housing market that led to the current recession depressed values, in many cases below mortgage levels, leaving a surplus of homes hanging over the market and making it financially difficult if not impossible for people to move," says the news release.
According to the report, there has been a change in the order of Idaho's largest cities. Boise, Nampa, and Meridian - in that order - remained as the three highest-populated cities in the state, but Idaho Falls has passed Pocatello to come in fourth on the list. Idaho Falls reportedly gained about 1,000 people, which moved it past Pocatello, though that city gained around 100 people. Meridian posted the largest gain, adding 2,100 people, a jump of 3.2 percent.