BOISE, Idaho — If Idaho is feeling growing pains, newly released data from the 2020 Census illustrates why.
The state's population grew by 17.3% over the past 10 years — second only to Utah, which saw an 18.4% percent change in population. Much of that growth was concentrated around the southwestern Idaho cities of Boise and Nampa, with Ada County growing by 26%.
The Ada County city of Meridian, meanwhile, became one of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S., jumping from just over 75,000 people in 2010 to more than 117,600 residents in 2020.
The population of Boise, Idaho's largest city and the Ada County seat, grew from 205,671 in 2010 to 235,684 in 2020, for a growth rate of 14.6%.
In Canyon County, the census puts Nampa's population just above the 100,000 mark -- up nearly 23% from the 2010 census figure of 81,557. The population of Caldwell grew by almost 30%, from about 46,000 in 2010 to almost 60,000 in 2020.
The fast-growing population has contributed to a housing crunch that is reflected in the census data. While Idaho's 10% home vacancy rate was close to the national average, would-be new residents can expect to struggle to find a place to live in southwestern Idaho, with Canyon County's vacancy rate at a low 3.9%. Gem, Ada and Payette counties also had low vacancy rates at 4.8%.
Idaho remains one of the less-diverse states in the nation, ranking 41st on the Census bureau's "Diversity Index," which measures the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different race and ethnicity groups. In the 2020 Census, almost 79% of residents self-identified at white alone — compared with about 84% of residents describing themselves as white but not Hispanic or Latino in 2010.
The percent of people identifying themselves as being in other race or ethnicity groups remained mostly flat, with a couple of exceptions. More than 4% of residents described themselves as being two or more races and not Hispanic or Latino. Idaho's Hispanic and Latino population continued to grow, increasing by 2% over the past decade to about 13% of residents.
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