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Growth and decline

Brief by Central Staff

Population – August 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Population growth and decline

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau issues population estimates in July. This time around, Central Colorado generally showed growth, while much of the San Luis Valley lost population.

Costilla County, for instance, dropped 9.79%, from 3,668 people on July 1, 2000, to 3,309 on July 1, 2008. Also declining were Rio Grande County, a 6.46% drop with 11,627 residents this year, and Conejos County, which was down by 3.87% to 8,074 residents in 2008.

Most of the other counties losing population (like Cheyenne, Kiowa, Sedgwick, and Baca) were out on the High Plains, although two mountain counties — Clear Creek and Jackson — also lost population.

The fastest-growing county in the state was Douglas (its seat is Castle Rock), which sits between Colorado Springs and Denver. It has gained 91,817 residents since 2000, for a growth rate of 50.82%. The growth leader in the mountains was Archuleta County (Pagosa Springs), at 25.21%, going from 10,041 in 2000 to 12,572 this year.

As for other counties in our territory, it went like this:

Lake (Leadville): 2000 population 7,826; 2008 population 7,913; 1.11% growth.

Alamosa (Alamosa): 14,969; 15,313; 2.30%.

Frémont (Cañon City): 46,282; 47,389; 2.39%

Chaffee (Salida): 16,318; 16,781; 2.84%

Gunnison (Gunnison): 14,008; 14,973; 6.89%

Custer (Westcliffe): 3,514; 4,025; 14.54%

Park (Fairplay): 14,700; 17,004; 15.67%

Saguache (Saguache): 5,981; 6,920; 15.70%

One change from recent trends is that Custer is no longer the fastest-growing county hereabouts. Park’s growth rate is no real surprise, but a decade ago, who’d have thought that Saguache County would become the growth leader in our region?