Census data shows Mountain West added 351,000 new residents during the pandemic
News in brief
Population growth in the Mountain West has increased during the pandemic, according to data released Tuesday by the US Census Bureau.
Idaho was the fastest growing state in the country between April 2020 and July 2021 – its population grew by 2.9%. Utah, Montana, Arizona and Nevada also made it into the top 10 fastest growing states. Even Wyoming, which has long struggled with population decline, added about 1,900 new residents. New Mexico, however, lost about 1,600 residents according to census estimates.
The boom comes as the West grapples with growing water shortages and an affordable housing crisis. During the past year, median home prices jumped by more than a third in select cities, including Missoula, Montana.
At a housing affordability meeting this month, County Commissioner Josh Slotnick said new residents are being drawn to his town because of its wealth of open spaces and outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, skiing and mountain biking.
“These places make life here wonderful,” he said. “The reason we are in this crisis, I believe, is because so many people want to live here.”
Overall, the region added more than 351,000 new residents between April 2020 and July 2021. Here’s the state-by-state breakdown:
- Arizona added approximately 125,000 new residents.
- Colorado added approximately 38,000 new residents.
- Idaho added approximately 62,000 new residents.
- Montana added about 20,000 new residents.
- Nevada added approximately 39,000 new residents.
- New Mexico lost about 1,600 inhabitants.
- Utah added 66,000 new residents.
- Wyoming added 1,900 new residents.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Nevada Public Radio, Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations throughout the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the public broadcasting company.
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