Friday, March 25, 2011

Denver Metro Area State’s Population Hub

The Denver metro area continues to have slightly more than half (55%) of the state’s population.  It has historically been the state’s population hub (54% in 1960).  The region’s growth rate of 16 percent the last decade was one percent below the state average of 17 percent.  The state’s other regions had slightly higher growth rates, but not enough to challenge the metro area’s dominance – the South (18%) and North (28%) Front Ranges and along the I-70 corridor on the Western Slope (20%).

Denver has been the region’s dominant county, and is still the largest – it held 47% of the region’s population in 1960, and now represents 22 percent. In fact, Denver had 28 percent of the state’s entire population in 1960. It is now 12 percent of the state. Although that decline reflects the long-term population trends for core cities and counties around the county, Denver has done better than most and, in fact, grew by 45,000 residents from 2000. Among the major trends observable from the 2010 census data are:

• The South Metro area gained the most people during the first decade of the new century. More than half of Arapahoe’s growth, which paced the state (17% growth in both state and county), was in Aurora, and more than half of the city’s population is Hispanic, black and Asian Pacific Islanders.

• Although Denver’s growth of 45,000 (8%) was less than the regional average, it represents the city’s continued vitality. Denver has increased by 133,000 residents since the 1990 census (28% increase). Also, along with being an arrival city, much of the growth was from metro residents moving into the city from the suburbs to be close to a vibrant city center and to reduce transportation burdens.

• Douglas County growth slowed dramatically at the end of the decade due to the weak economy, causing a major housing bust. Adams County and the north suburbs began a slower, but steadier growth trend in its western suburbs and in smaller cities and towns in the north. The county has more room to grow into good transportation access and considerable water.

• Boulder County lost Broomfield during the decade as the city became an independent city and county. Boulder’s anti-growth policies were successful as the county had the smallest population increase in the area– 3,277 residents (1%).

• Jefferson County has had little growth since the mid-1990s when it appeared to be surging to become the state’s largest county. Now, it has fallen behind Arapahoe County by 40,000 residents. Two of its largest cities – Lakewood and Wheat Ridge – lost residents.

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