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Urban Idaho grows again

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Idaho's population growth is still clipping along, albeit at a slower pace than the breakneck speed of recent years.

According to United States Census Bureau estimates released last week, the state population grew by 2.4 percent last year, down from the 2.7 percent of 2006. Still, that's an increase of 35,500 people.

The vast majority of the growth is in the state's urban centers, with 1,023,652 of Idaho's estimated 1,466,465 population living in one of the state's 200 cities.

Statistics show that 60 percent of that growth (21,500 people) settled in 14 cities, seven of which are in the Treasure Valley: Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Kuna, Nampa, Caldwell and Star.

The remaining seven are scattered across eastern and northern Idaho, including Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Coeur d'Alene, Pocatello and Rexburg.

Star—that's right, Star—was the fastest-growing city in the state for the second year running. Star's population jumped 17.7 percent last year to 4,754. Still, it's a far cry from the 43.9 percent increase in 2006.

Both Notus and Middleton also saw double-digit jumps, but the two rural towns can still be considered small populations of 602 and 5,382 respectively.

When it comes to the big boys of the valley, Boise is lagging behind its suburbs in growth.

While the capital city is still the largest city in the state, it saw an increase of only 1.2 percent—2,424 new people for a total population of 202,832—a growth rate dwarfed by Kuna, Meridian and Caldwell.

Kuna's population increased by 7.2 percent to 12,785 people, a smaller jump than 2006's 12.9 percent. Meridian increased by 7 percent (4,225 people) to 64,642 in 2007, down from 14.3 percent the previous year.

Caldwell saw a jump of 7.8 percent (2,883 people) to 39,889 last year, making it one of the few cities to boast an increase over 2006, which saw a 6.8 percent growth rate.

Other Treasure Valley cities saw decreases in growth rates. Eagle dropped to 3.6 percent in 2007 from 6.2 percent in 2006, with a total population of 19,254. Nampa's rate decreased to 4.2 percent from 5.3 percent with a population of 79,249.

Still, those cities fared better than the 138 cities that saw virtually no population change last year.

If the Boise metro area's feeling a little too crowded for you these days, there are still a few towns across the state with population numbers in the double digits.

According to the Census Bureau, the smallest is Warm River near the Wyoming border with a population of 10. There are most likely some smaller hamlets tucked away, but the bureau doesn't know about them, yet.

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