Washington County population grows
According to the U.S. Census Bureaus estimates, Washington County is growing.
From 2010 to 2013 the county grew by 311 people, or 1.4 percent. This brings the total estimated population of Washington County to 22,015 people, which makes it the 14th fastest growing county in Iowa.
The numbers the U.S. Census Bureau released didn’t surprise Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) Director Ed Raber. He thinks the county will continue to grow.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated there to be 134 births in the past three years and estimated 178 people moved to Washington County from other parts of the United States, Raber said.
“Everybody thinks of Washington County as a retirement community and that’s not true,” Raber said. “We had more births than deaths and we’re fortunate to have a growing population of younger people moving to the county, specifically from the young Latino community.”
Another thing that has helped with growth is the access to highways 218 and 1.
“When I first moved here in ’96, [Highway] 218 was four lanes to Riverside,” Raber said. “It’s a new road still and makes it easy for people to move around now. It’s very important to our economic viability and is a lifeline for our growing county and communities.”
Highway 1 is scheduled for repaving within the next year. People use that road daily to commute back and forth to Iowa City, Raber said.
Surrounding counties, like Henry and Louisa, didn’t fare as well from the census, Raber said.
The census showed Henry County’s population declined by 61 people, which brought their estimated population to 20,145 people. Louisa County also declined by 230 people to bring their population down to 11,387.
“What is important for people to remember is even though the county grew at a modest rate, it still grew,” Raber said. “This helps support the market for our stores, our school—but just a little bit adds to the pie.”
Another factor is that the county isn’t growing in one certain area but countywide, Raber said.
“I think there’s a little bit of growth happening around the county,” he said. “For instance, the City of Brighton is doing a lot of great things and is growing but it’s nothing transparent like what’s happening in North Liberty.”
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson wasn’t surprised by the census results.
“I think it’s very good news,” Hinson said.
However, Hinson said he thought the trends of population growth were more in the northern tier of the county because of its close proximity to Iowa City. He said the city would know more about its growth when the census bureau releases the study in June or July on municipality growth in Iowa.
To view the complete results from the census, you can visit the Iowa’s Data Center Web site.