From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 29 - July 17, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pinedale leads state in growth

by Jonathan Van Dyke

Early numbers already estimated large gains in population for Sublette County for 2007, and now estimates show the county’s three towns — led by 12.4 percent growth in Pinedale — as some of the fastest growing in the state.

“It’s a pretty big increase, no matter how you look at it,” said Jeffrey Jacquet, socioeconomic analyst for the Sublette Community Partnership.

While Pinedale saw the greatest percentage change in all of Wyoming, Marbleton posted an 8.4 percent growth and Big Piney showed a 5.1 percent growth.

Wyoming is growing faster than it has in 25 years, said Amy Bittner, economist for the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division. Bittner also noted the specific way the numbers were estimated.

“I think it’s important that they estimate resident population,” Bittner said. “The estimates reflect the residents that live there.”

That means that any transient worker population is not necessarily accounted for, making the increase even more impressive. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates much of its data from building permits and filed tax returns in the county.

It is no secret what is ultimately accounting for such a drastic upswing.

“This population change is being driven by job growth, mainly in the mining industry,” Bittner said.

In 2006, Wyoming saw a 5.4 percent increase in jobs, while 2007 had a 3.9 percent growth, Bittner said.

“That’s still pretty strong growth,” she added.

Jacquet noted that the estimates were further proof that people are not necessarily moving to Pinedale, Big Piney or Marbleton. “I think people have made an issue of Sublette County’s rural sprawl in Wyoming — our non-incorporated areas are growing faster than in other counties,” Jacquet said. Lands not bound to any of the three cities saw a population growth of 8.9 percent. Lately, officials of both the towns and the counties have pushed for more housing connected to the towns with higher densities.

“I did the numbers and 67 percent of the county’s residents live outside of the towns and 60 percent of the new residents since 2000 moved to areas outside of the towns,” Jacquet added. “So even though Pinedale has grown by 12 percent, the majority of people are still coming into the rural areas and rural subdivisions.”

Jacquet noted that a reason for such out-of-town migration could be lower pricing away from the towns.

Next year’s numbers particularly intrigue officials eager to see if the county can maintain this growth, or if the energy industry migration has slowed down.

“It’s interesting that those numbers are essentially a year old,” Jacquet said. “I wonder if they’re going to show it slowing down over the last year or not?”

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