NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How The West Has Grown!

March 13, 2000

During the 1990s, the Mountain West region of the U.S. has experienced during the sharpest population growth rates of any area in the country. Residents largely welcome the newcomers who are stabilizing and revitalizing towns which once plagued by boom-and-bust economies as mines and other enterprises came and went.

But some old-timers complain the new arrivals have brought more strip malls and more suburbs.

  • Between 1990 and 1999, the population of the Mountain West grew 25.4 percent.
  • The five fastest growing states in the country -- Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Colorado -- are all in the region.
  • Much of the growth is concentrated in former hinterlands -- with Archuleta County in southern Colorado, for example, experiencing a 70.5 percent population increase in the 90s.
  • Teton County, Idaho, saw a population boost nearly as great -- at 59.6 percent.

The change in the face and character of the towns is indisputable. In some, it is said, there are now more banks than bars. The influx has come to be called the suburbanization of the West. The booming U.S. economy -- and former city dwellers fed up with smog and clogged freeways -- are two major factors responsible for the migration.

Source: Associated Press, "Population Surge Alters Face of Mountain West," Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2000.


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