New census estimates show Linn County in eastern Iowa has passed the 200-thousand level in population, giving Iowa two counties over that mark for the first time ever. Liesl Eathington is the director of the Social and Economic Trend Analysis Center at Iowa State University.
Eathington says the metro areas in the state saw growth of about 80,000 people and are really the "growth engines for the state." Linn County is home to Cedar Rapids and now has an estimated population of just about 202,000.
Iowa’s overall population growth was just one-point-nine percent since the 2000 census, with 35 counties gaining population and 64 counties losing residents. Eathington says there’s a big reason people are moving to the metros. Eathington says the metros represent a destination where the jobs are. Polk County is the other county above the 200,000 threshold with nearly 409,000 people living there.
Eathington says the growth trend of metro areas is something that’s not unique to Iowa. She says there are similar patterns in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, with Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri the exceptions in the midwest. Eathington says the metro growth has some advantages for the counties along their borders.
Eathington says a breakdown of the non-metro counties into groups shows the counties that’re closer to the metro counties didn’t lose residents as rapidly as the others. Eathington says some people are living in those non-metro communities and commuting to the metro area for jobs. She says that spreads some of the wealth.
Eathington says as the non-metro counties build up as places to live for the metro counties, it does bring additional economic activity to the non-metro county. Dallas County continues to be the fastest-growing county in Iowa, increasing by five-point-one percent from July of 2005 to July of 2006. Dallas County has added nearly 14,000 residents since the 2000 census for a total population of 54,525.