Kootenai County numbers increase

2012 population was 142,357, up nearly 1 percent

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Jen Franklin doesn't want Kootenai County to get too big, but small population increases are fine.

"If we grow a little, that's always a good sign," the Post Falls woman said outside the Post Falls Library on Thursday. "I think small, gradual growth is healthy ... as long as work is available."

Kootenai's population rose 0.89 percent from 141,103 in June 2011 to 142,357 June 2012, according to data released on Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

While that's a far cry from the 3 to 5 percent gains that were common before the recession, some metropolitan areas, including Boise and Gem counties, both part of the Boise area, had population declines.

Overall, 24 counties had population declines from 2011 to 2012 and 18 had increases. Benewah County's population decreased .51 percent from 9,164 to 9,117.

Idaho's population increased .76 percent from 1,583,744 to 1,595,728.

Post Falls resident Ken Cooper said he believes Kootenai County's beauty and being a favorable place to raise kids and retire is responsible for some of the growth.

"I think as long as you have those factors, Kootenai County will always at least be in the game for population increases," he said. "Too much growth at once isn't healthy. We need a lot more employment opportunities to grow in bulk."

Lincoln County posted the largest population increase at 2.25 percent, while tiny Clark County had the biggest decrease at 8.81 percent.

From mid-2011 to mid-2012 rural Idaho saw its largest exodus of people since the multiple recessions of the 1980s, according to the report.

The report showed more than 5,600 people moved out of the 33 rural counties than moved in. Twenty-eight of the 33 rural counties experienced net domestic outmigration.

"That was offset by a modest increase in people moving in from other countries and by births exceeding deaths in all but eight counties," the report states.

Overall, however, 24 of the 33 rural counties lost population. It was the fourth straight year that rural Idaho has seen net outmigration.

The 11 urban counties now have 65.5 percent of the state's population. That is up nearly half a percentage point from a year earlier and almost 10 full percentage points since 1983.

Idaho's city population figures are expected to be released as soon as June.

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