Figures released by the Idaho Department of Labor show that the Pocatello metropolitan area was one of only five metro areas in the state to lose population between 2012 and 2013. Bannock County’s population dropped a half percent as more than 1,100 people moved elsewhere in the state or nation. Bannock and Power counties make up the Pocatello metro area.
Power County saw a drop of 1.1 percent of its population due to the exodus of 150 people. It was the third straight year of declining population for that county
Part of the population drop in Bannock County can be attributed to the loss of jobs. From 2008 to 2013, the number of jobs in the county dropped from 33,689 to 30,859, according to Department of Labor statistics.
People move “as a matter of necessity,” said regional economist for the Department of Labor, Dan Craves. “They have to pay for the expenses of life.”
The sectors losing the most jobs in Bannock County during the past five years have been government, construction, manufacturing, information services and food service.
Bingham County also experienced an outward migration of 580 people or a population drop of 0.4 percent.
Despite the drop in population in the Pocatello metro area, the steady shift of Idaho’s population from rural to urban counties slowed in 2013 as the 33 rural counties saw their combined population increase for the first time in three years.
Estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday showed the population of the rural counties rising two-tenths of a percent from mid-2012 to mid-2013 — about 1,200 people — while the population of the 11 urban counties increased 1.5 percent.
Nearly two-thirds or 65.7 percent of Idaho’s population is living in the urban counties, but the rate of increase from mid-2012 to mid-2013 was just half the increase recorded in the previous cycle.
Statewide, Idaho’s population rose 1 percent to just over 1.6 million, resuming a growth rate higher than the national rate of seven-tenths of a percent in 2013.
Twenty-one counties lost population in 2013 including the urban counties of Bannock and Power. Boise and Gem counties, which are two of the five in the Boise metro area also lost population. Canyon County, the second largest in the state at nearly 200,000 and part of the Boise metro area, led all counties in growth at 2.6 percent.
Other Southeast Idaho counties experienced minor growth with Caribou and Franklin up 0.4 percent; and Oneida up 1 percent.
Bear Lake County broke a string of 10 years of declining population with a gain of 39 people, or 0.7 percent.