Growth in Gree­ley

Metro area claims na­tion’s fourth fastest rate of pop­u­la­tion in­crease

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Aldo Svaldi

All of Weld County took a hit when oil prices col­lapsed in late 2014. But that didn’t de­ter a net 7,300 peo­ple from mov­ing there, which al­lowed the Gree­ley metro area to claim the na­tion’s fourth fastest rate of pop­u­la­tion growth, ac­cord­ing to new es­ti­mates from the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau.

The Gree­ley metro area, which in­cludes Weld County, in­creased by 9,879 peo­ple be­tween July 1, 2015 and June 30, bring­ing its pop­u­la­tion to 294,932. That 3.5 per­cent rate of pop­u­la­tion growth ranked fourth out of the 382 metro ar­eas tracked by the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau.

“Mi­gra­tion con­trib­uted a large share of the over­all pop­u­la­tion growth in Weld County. The mi­gra­tion from other ar­eas, in­clud­ing the West­ern Slope and other Front Range coun­ties, is due in part to ac­cess to hous­ing,” said Cindy DeGroen, pro­jec­tions de­mog­ra­pher at the Colorado De­mog­ra­phy Of­fice.

Weld County’s pop­u­la­tion growth rate ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­ated last year, sur­pass­ing the 3.2 per­cent pace in the 12 months end­ing June 30, 2015.

Af­ter Gree­ley, the next fastest grow­ing metro in the state was Colorado Springs, which added 14,708 peo­ple, enough to push its pop­u­la­tion to 712,327. That 2.1 per­cent growth rate ranked 29th in the coun­try.

Fort Collins added 6,124 peo­ple and has an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of 339,993. The 1.8 per­cent pace ranked 51st.

The Den­ver-Au­rora-Lake­wood metro area added 44,261 peo­ple, lift­ing the to­tal pop­u­la­tion to 2,853,077. The 1.6 per­cent rate of pop­u­la­tion growth ranked 66th in the coun­try, but the nu­meric gain in pop­u­la­tion ranked 15th among metro ar­eas.

The two slow­est grow­ing metro ar­eas in the state were Grand Junc­tion, which cov­ers Mesa County, and Boul­der, which cov­ers Boul­der County. Grand Junc­tion added 1,682 peo­ple, lift­ing the pop­u­la­tion to 150,083. That 1.1 per­cent rate of growth ranked 106th.

Boul­der also had a 1.1 per­cent growth rate but ranked 109th. The county added 3,488 peo­ple, bring its pop­u­la­tion to 322,226.

Grand Junc­tion has a nat­u­ral-re­sources de­pen­dent econ­omy which has been hurt by de­pressed com­mod­ity prices, es­pe­cially for nat­u­ral gas. That helps ex­plain the com­par­a­tively slug­gish gains ver­sus other parts of Colorado. But Boul­der County has a vi­brant econ­omy, which is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with more ro­bust pop­u­la­tion gains.

If af­ford­able hous­ing helped Weld County at­tract res­i­dents, a lack of it may be hurt­ing Boul­der.

Es­tately, a real es­tate search en­gine, re­ports that 75 per­cent of the home list­ings in the city of Boul­der are priced at $1 mil­lion or higher, ver­sus 25 per­cent of list­ings in the city of Den­ver list­ings and only 2.5 per­cent of home list­ings in Fort Collins.

DeGroen said net mi­gra­tion to Boul­der County, which has av­er­aged 3,009 peo­ple a year since 2010, dropped to 2,448 in the last cen­sus pe­riod. The county also ex­pe­ri­enced a slow­ing in nat­u­ral in­crease, which is births mi­nus deaths.

“Al­though births in­creased, the num­ber of deaths due to an aging pop­u­la­tion in­creased also,” she said.

The U.S. Cen­sus Bureau also re­leased num­bers on county-level pop­u­la­tions, and sev­eral smaller Colorado coun­ties ranked high for their gains, DeGroen said. Cos­tilla County, in south cen­tral Colorado, ex­pe­ri­enced a 4.4 per­cent gain in its pop­u­la­tion af­ter adding 158 peo­ple, mostly from mi­gra­tion. Its growth rate ranked sev­enth for growth among U.S. coun­ties.

Other smaller Colorado coun­ties mak­ing the top 30 list for pop­u­la­tion gains in­clude Ou­ray, up 4.23 per­cent or 197 peo­ple; Custer County, up 4 per­cent or 177 peo­ple; Archuleta County, up 3.8 per­cent or 470 peo­ple and Dolores County, up 3.79 per­cent or 75 peo­ple, DeGroen said.

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