No surprise: Census numbers show Idaho growth concentrated in a few areas

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

On Thursday, the US Census Bureau released its 2020 Census information to states, allowing the redistricting process to begin.

Later in the day, Idaho’s Legislative Services Office sent out spreadsheets with information on population changes by Idaho county, city, legislative district, and congressional district from 2010 and 2020. The documents confirmed that most of Idaho’s growth is concentrated in a handful of cities and counties. View the spreadsheets here.

After each US Census, the state’s redistricting commission must convene to make sure each of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts is roughly equal in population. That commission redraws legislative boundaries to account for population fluctuations from the preceding decade.

The goal: To ensure each of Idaho’s 1.8 million residents has equal representation, or close to it, in both the state legislature and US Congress. That means each of Idaho’s legislative districts should have about 52,500 people living within its boundaries, while Idaho’s two congressional districts should have approximately 919,500 people.

While most Idaho counties grew in population over the last ten years, that growth wasn’t equal. Thirty of Idaho’s counties had less than 10 percent population growth, and seven lost population between 2010 and 2020.

Meanwhile, Idaho’s urban counties accounted for much of the state’s rapid population. Kootenai County grew 23.7 percent, while Ada grew 26.1 percent and Canyon grew 22.3 percent.

Depending on how the redistricting commission redraws boundaries, that will likely add additional legislative seats to those urban and suburban areas, while making Idaho’s rural legislative districts even more spread out.

There were also outliers. According to the Census data collated by LSO, Madison County grew by 41 percent, from 37,536 residents to 52,913. Clark County, Idaho’s smallest, shrunk 19.6 percent, downsizing from 982 residents to just 790.

In all, 70 Idaho towns and cities reported a population decrease between 2010 and 2020 (though two of those were by just one person), while 130 reported population increases. The city of Star nearly doubled in population, going from 5,793 people to 11,117, while Middleton increased from 5,524 to 9,425.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney issued an order to convene the redistricting commission. Idaho Reports will provide continued analysis of the US Census results, as well as the redistricting process.

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