Growth Rate In the Mountain West? Not So Fast...

Nov 5, 2018

Over the past decade or so, the Mountain West has seen rapid population growth, but there are parts of the region that are slowing down.

Elizabeth Garner, the State Demographer for Colorado, said that for a while the Mountain West has had the advantage of lower costs and more space. But since 2015, Colorado’s growth rate has been declining, which means that “we’re still increasing, just by not as many,” said Garner.

Garner gave a few explanations. For one, we’re seeing fewer births and an aging population. At the same time, our housing costs have skyrocketed.  

It stands to reason then, Garner said, “if those benefits of moving here don’t outweigh the costs, then typically you wouldn’t make that move.”

Utah’s growth is also slowing down. Meanwhile Montana and Idaho’s growth rates are still on the up and up, something Garner said might be due to overflow populations in the Pacific Northwest. The outlier in the Mountain West region is Wyoming, which continues to see its population decline.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.