Friday, March 27, 2015

We Are Number Six

Architectural rendering of new Town Pump, 19th Street in Bozeman.
In growth among micropolitan statistical areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. Census Bureau says Bozeman was the sixth-fastest growing “micropolitan” area in the nation from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014, with Gallatin County’s population increasing by 2.8 percent to an estimated 97,308 residents.
The fastest-growing micro area in 2013-2014 was Williston, North Dakota, with 8.7 percent growth, the bureau reports. Rounding out the top five on the micropolitan growth list were Dickinson, North Dakota; Heber, Utah; Andrews, Texas; and Vernal, Utah.
There are 536 micro areas in total, so that would put Bozeman just outside of the top one percent. The top two areas, Williston and Dickinson, are in the middle of the Bakken oil formation. Their growth should moderate substantially in 2015 with the recent 50 percent decline in wellhead oil prices substantially reducing drilling activity in the area.

So far, the local Bozeman county and city governments are welcoming of growth and spend much of their time taking on its challenges. But as the year goes by, and more people from the coasts move here to get away from it all, these people from the liberal lands will make up an increasing proportion of the local voting population. They will move to close the doors behind them and impose taxes, requirements and restrictions that discourage growth and make Bozeman a substantially more expensive place to live. Then they will decry the absence of affordable housing and blame it on rapacious business people. So it goes.

Service line at new Five Guys in Bozeman.
Now the truth be known, the Census really doesn't know what populations are but every ten years. In between decennial censuses the bureau imputes populations using birth, death, and other demographic and real estate data, along with a dosage of statistical benchmarking. Despite their best but distant and partially informed efforts, most population data need to be substantially revised by the time of the next decennial census. Based on the growth in traffic, expansion of local retail (food and service stations), and the local proliferation of construction sites, I am betting that the Census Bureau estimate for Bozeman is understated. We shall see in time.

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