Cities on the Rise in Idaho

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Cities on the Rise in Idaho

There is more to Idaho than just potatoes.

It may surprise some that Idaho’s No. 1 gross domestic product is technology manufacturing, according to Idaho Commerce, the state’s economic development agency.

Idaho’s economic engine appears to be striking the right balance between traditional and emerging industries. Longtime employment staples — such as agriculture (potatoes!), timber production and fishing — are being supplemented by new industries such as advanced manufacturing and tourism.

The result is that more than $650 million has been invested in south-central Idaho since 2012, and several industry sectors have seen double-digit growth in the past two years. State GDP has grown 7% since 2012, and Idaho currently boasts an unemployment rate of 4.9%. (The national unemployment rate in July stood at 6.2%.)

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To dig deeper into the data, NerdWallet analyzed the cities and towns in Idaho that seem to be fueling — or just enjoying — the state’s growth the most.

Here’s what our analysis factored in:

1. Population growth. We measured growth in the working-age population from 2009 to 2012.
2. Employment growth. We evaluated growth in the percentage of employed residents from 2009 to 2012.
3. Income growth. We calculated growth in the median income for full-time, year-round workers from 2009 to 2012.

For more on our methodology, please see the end of the report.

Here’s what our top places had in common:

Southern Idaho is on the rise. Five of our top 10 cities were located in either Idaho’s south-central or southeastern regions, specifically around Twin Falls and Pocatello.

Business diversity is prevalent in Idaho. While all of our cities had an agricultural sector, there are also a number of emerging businesses, ranging from seasonal tourism to large-scale manufacturing.

Wages are going up. Median income outpaced employment growth in all but one of our top 10 cities. Even if employment remains unchanged, many residents in Idaho’s cities are now wealthier.

For more information on these and other places, check out NerdWallet Cities. For a full ranking of all 46 places analyzed in Idaho for this study, click here.

Top 10 Cities on the Rise in Idaho

1. Heyburn

Business is booming in Heyburn. The region’s prominent agricultural and distribution sector saw a huge boost in 2012 when Chobani opened the world’s largest yogurt processing facility in nearby Twin Falls. The plant represents an investment of $450 million and employs over 1,000 people. Heyburn has also recently become home to a Gem State Processing potato plant and the Double L harvest equipment manufacturer. Additionally, companies such the Packaging Corporation of America have seen employment rise as new businesses seek out their services, says Kae Cameron, executive director of the Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce.

2. Chubbuck

Location is paramount for Chubbuck. The city lies just north of Pocatello, Idaho’s fifth-largest city, and is 10 miles west of the Pocatello Regional Airport. Also key, Chubbuck is at the crossroads of interstates 15 and 86, the only interstates that connect truckers coming from the Sun Belt to the Northwest. Adding to the region’s strength is the recent addition of an Allstate Insurance customer service center that employs 500 people in the Pocatello-Chubbuck area.

3. Jerome

Jerome joins our list largely on the strength of its working-age population growth, which increased 20.5% from 2009 to 2012. Spurring the growth was the city’s approval of 2,400 new housing lots from 2005 to 2010. Jerome’s unemployment is a low 4.1%, and most of its residents work within the county. Jerome is positioned well for future growth, with plenty of undeveloped land along the interstate that already has in place all major utilities and fiber optic lines.

4. American Falls

In American Falls and surrounding Power County, agriculture is king, with crops including potatoes, a variety of grains and sugar beets. The strong farming sector has kept income growing here, despite modest gains in employment. According to the board chairman of the Greater American Falls Chamber of Commerce, the past four years have been the best economically for agriculture in Idaho, which might explain the impressive three-year, 11.3% income growth for residents. Big names such as Driscoll’s and County Line Farms have helped lead the growth in the city’s agricultural industries. Food processing at the ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston Plant also continues to play a key role in the city’s positive employment outlook.

5. Buhl

Buhl ranks No. 1 in our top 20 cities for employment growth, with a yearly increase of 10.1%. Buhl benefits from its proximity to Twin Falls, which in addition to welcoming Chobani’s facility is also the home of C3’s new call center. Buhl’s largest employer, Seneca Foods Corp., operates a 489,000-square-foot corn and sugar snap pea packaging facility.

6. Kuna

Kuna is not only growing, but it’s also growing younger. The median age of residents is 28, and from 2000 to 2010, Kuna was the fastest-growing city in Idaho. Population growth has slowed slightly in the past few years, but with a three-year increase of 17.04% in the working-age community, Kuna still is one of the fastest-growing places in the state. Kuna’s 20-year plan calls for developing its 18 square miles, as it seeks to continue attracting businesses and residents with low taxes, natural beauty and its proximity to Boise, the capital.

7. Hayden

Hayden is all about fun — from fishing or swimming at Lake Hayden to the Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park. Visitors could also take their chances at the Coeur d’Alene Casino. For residents, employment remains strong, especially at companies such as the Hagadone Corp., which owns the Coeur d’Alene Resort. The city, as it benefits from tourism in the winter and summer, saw positive growth in all three of our metrics.

8. Grangeville

A century later, forestry, timber and ranching continue to be the backbone of the economy in Grangeville. The town’s largest employer is the U.S. Forest Service, and it’s no wonder: Grangeville is surrounded on three sides by the Clearwater, Nez Perce and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. With its location far from major cities, but with an unemployment rate of only 1.9%, Grangeville is a place for those looking to earn a living while enjoying nature’s tranquility.

9. Salmon

The bulk of Salmon’s economy is linked to the federal government. Various government agencies own 93% of Lemhi County, where Salmon is the county seat. The agencies, 42 of them, include the Forest Service, the Salmon Cobalt Ranger District and Bureau of Land Management, and employ 12.3% of the county. There are also family-owned cattle farms, and the annual Steelhead run boosts the seasonal economy.

10. Post Falls

Post Falls is leveraging its prime location that borders Coeur d’Alene and Washington’s Spokane Valley and includes the University of Idaho Research Park business incubator to attract new businesses to what has historically been a timber town. In 2009, construction of lab for ALK Source Materials, a Danish pharmaceutical company, was completed. In 2010, the Idaho Department of Labor opened a regional office in Post Falls, and in 2012, the city welcomed a 30,000-square-foot office building for Ednetics, an educational software company.

Live in Idaho? How is the state’s economy affecting your life? Let us know in the comments.

Check out our interactive map for Cities on the Rise in Idaho. The darker the color of the point, the higher the rate of growth for the working-age population. Click on data points for more information.

nerdwallet

City Working-age population in 2012 Working-age population growth 2009-2012 Employment percentage
2012
Employment growth
2009-2012
 Median income
2012
Median income growth 2009-2012 Overall growth score
1 Heyburn 2,286 27.28% 61.7 -2.06% 34,407 23.96% 81.13
2 Chubbuck 9,048 11.73% 64.4 -0.62% 39,645 20.80% 70.94
3 Jerome 7,304 20.47% 60 -3.38% 29,784 9.33% 65.68
4 American Falls 3,186 9.41% 58.1 3.38% 32,562 11.26% 65.99
5 Buhl 3,229 3.36% 62.6 10.02% 30,543 8.09% 65.50
6 Kuna 9,506 17.04% 66.2 -6.36% 40,506 11.34% 62.72
7 Hayden 10,078 4.24% 58.4 1.57% 39,637 11.05% 61.37
8 Grangeville 2,514 5.50% 58.9 5.37% 33,006 5.87% 61.46
9 Salmon 2,510 4.76% 54.3 -4.40% 38,468 15.87% 60.33
10 Post Falls 20,000 7.20% 64.8 -1.67% 37,750 10.15% 59.88
11 St. Anthony 2,515 7.80% 58.8 -10.37% 35,341 18.25% 59.04
12 Fruitland 3,223 -0.46% 62.9 5.54% 32,500 8.04% 59.65
13 Star 3,638 19.01% 64.5 0.94% 45,288 -4.24% 58.63
14 Preston 3,714 6.66% 57 -5.16% 36,761 12.60% 58.51
15 Meridian 52,517 19.30% 65.2 -4.82% 44,148 0.88% 57.84
16 Blackfoot 8,605 6.20% 57.6 2.67% 32,997 4.39% 58.66
17 Caldwell 32,843 14.41% 56.6 -5.51% 31,452 5.75% 57.90
18 Hailey 6,053 0.77% 77.5 -0.26% 46,910 12.09% 58.62
19 Coeur d’Alene 35,410 6.73% 59.1 -5.29% 35,710 9.74% 56.42
20 Ammon 9,326 13.28% 62.9 -3.38% 41,815 1.61% 55.99

Methodology

 The overall score for each city was derived from these measures:

  1. Population growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the working-age population (16+) comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.
  2. Employment growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score. Data for the percent of employed residents comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.
  3. Income growth from 2009 to 2012 made up 33.3% of the total score.  Data for the median earnings for workers comes from the 2012 U.S. Census American Community Survey 5-year estimate for all places in the state, Table DP03.


We evaluated 46 cities and communities in Idaho for this study.

City Working-age population in 2012 Working-age population growth 2009-2012 Employment percentage
2012
Employment growth
2009-2012
 Median income
2012
Median income growth 2009-2012 Overall growth score
1 Heyburn 2,286 27.28% 61.7 -2.06% 34,407 23.96% 81.13
2 Chubbuck 9,048 11.73% 64.4 -0.62% 39,645 20.80% 70.94
3 Jerome 7,304 20.47% 60 -3.38% 29,784 9.33% 65.68
4 American Falls 3,186 9.41% 58.1 3.38% 32,562 11.26% 65.99
5 Buhl 3,229 3.36% 62.6 10.02% 30,543 8.09% 65.50
6 Kuna 9,506 17.04% 66.2 -6.36% 40,506 11.34% 62.72
7 Hayden 10,078 4.24% 58.4 1.57% 39,637 11.05% 61.37
8 Grangeville 2,514 5.50% 58.9 5.37% 33,006 5.87% 61.46
9 Salmon 2,510 4.76% 54.3 -4.40% 38,468 15.87% 60.33
10 Post Falls 20,000 7.20% 64.8 -1.67% 37,750 10.15% 59.88
11 St. Anthony 2,515 7.80% 58.8 -10.37% 35,341 18.25% 59.04
12 Fruitland 3,223 -0.46% 62.9 5.54% 32,500 8.04% 59.65
13 Star 3,638 19.01% 64.5 0.94% 45,288 -4.24% 58.63
14 Preston 3,714 6.66% 57 -5.16% 36,761 12.60% 58.51
15 Meridian 52,517 19.30% 65.2 -4.82% 44,148 0.88% 57.84
16 Blackfoot 8,605 6.20% 57.6 2.67% 32,997 4.39% 58.66
17 Caldwell 32,843 14.41% 56.6 -5.51% 31,452 5.75% 57.90
18 Hailey 6,053 0.77% 77.5 -0.26% 46,910 12.09% 58.62
19 Coeur d’Alene 35,410 6.73% 59.1 -5.29% 35,710 9.74% 56.42
20 Ammon 9,326 13.28% 62.9 -3.38% 41,815 1.61% 55.99
21 Lewiston 26,021 1.09% 60 2.21% 38,193 5.61% 56.17
22 Mountain Home AFB 2,205 -29.69% 28.2 21.55% 30,317 11.71% 57.96
23 Pocatello 41,746 0.56% 62.7 -2.64% 36,400 9.93% 55.06
24 Weiser 4,193 3.66% 48.4 -7.10% 26,998 10.98% 54.05
25 Idaho Falls 42,340 6.99% 61.5 -2.07% 36,735 1.87% 53.55
26 Kimberly 2,402 1.87% 58.5 -11.23% 37,656 15.63% 53.01
27 Nampa 57,519 5.06% 57.4 -2.38% 33,777 3.34% 53.21
28 Burley 7,310 13.33% 55.3 3.56% 27,466 -10.12% 53.22
29 Mountain Home 10,485 14.75% 53.1 -4.32% 30,691 -3.32% 52.59
30 Twin Falls 33,512 8.49% 59 -4.68% 31,980 1.41% 52.00
31 Boise City 167,697 4.08% 63.5 -4.37% 40,737 4.56% 51.91
32 Moscow 20,423 -1.48% 59.2 2.42% 35,613 1.74% 52.08
33 Soda Springs 2,368 0.68% 53.3 -4.48% 42,150 6.30% 51.07
34 Rigby 2,650 19.58% 64.7 -3.86% 27,771 -12.01% 49.61
35 Gooding 2,765 14.11% 53.3 -12.91% 29,375 2.12% 49.23
36 Middleton 3,755 13.51% 56.7 -14.22% 34,688 2.82% 48.33
37 Garden City 9,056 -6.91% 52.2 -10.31% 37,711 11.27% 45.51
38 Emmett 4,738 3.90% 45.3 -14.04% 32,402 5.67% 44.87
39 Rathdrum 5,128 1.91% 57 -20.17% 36,142 12.69% 43.81
40 Shelley 2,824 3.86% 59 -6.35% 30,154 -3.66% 44.36
41 Rupert 3,971 2.06% 59 12.60% 24,853 -22.91% 44.75
42 Eagle 14,762 7.44% 57.3 -7.58% 58,435 -6.92% 43.15
43 Sandpoint 5,567 -15.88% 61.4 -3.61% 30,220 6.89% 42.50
44 Orofino 2,707 2.46% 39.6 -13.91% 34,115 -0.92% 39.45
45 Rexburg 20,422 -6.85% 54.2 -0.18% 26,040 -9.15% 39.12
46 Payette 5,520 -4.70% 46.3 -19.48% 31,901 5.90% 35.66

 

Boise, Idaho image via Shutterstock.