GREELEY — Weld County added more new residents than any other county in the state since the April 2020 census, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The county added an estimated 11,055 residents, taking it from a population of 328,981 to 340,036, as of July 1, 2021, a growth rate of 3.4%.
The Census Bureau estimates population in counties annually, building on the latest census, earlier estimates and demographic analysis.
Douglas County ranked second statewide in terms of residents added, with 11,012 new residents taking the population from 357,978 to 368,990, an increase of 3.1%.
When looking at estimates for the one-year span from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, Weld and Douglas reversed positions, with Douglas County adding 8,888 residents during that 12-month period and Weld County adding 8,678.
El Paso County ranked No. 3 statewide in terms of population added since the census, with 7,472 new residents taking the population from 730,395 to 737,867, up 1%.
Larimer County ranked No. 4 statewide, adding 3,467 residents, taking the population from 359,066 to 362,533, an increase of 1%.
Boulder County actually lost population according to the estimate, dropping by 1,215 residents, from 330,758 to 329,543, down 0.4%.
Broomfield County added 1,213 residents, taking the population from 74,112 to 75,325, up 1.6%.
Rich Werner, president and CEO of Upstate Colorado, a regional economic-development organization based in Greeley, said the latest population gains reflect a trend that has existed over the past decade.
Weld County communities offer more-affordable housing options than many parts of the Denver area, Werner noted, with growth of industry adding to the appeal.
“When you have an area of Northern Colorado that is tied to the metro Denver region and are seeing robust growth in industry, along with additional affordable [housing] options and a variety of communities to live in, you’re seeing that support that growth,” he said. “It’s always been an issue of housing stock and affordability that lends itself, along with the commuting patterns of the workforce.”
The Census Bureau identified net migration as the main factor in Larimer County’s one-year population growth, while Weld County showed a robust natural change of 1,993 and net migration of 6,730.
But negative net migration was cited as the key component of Boulder County’s population loss since July 1, 2020, with 1,413 residents moving out of the county, only slightly offset by natural change, or births compared with deaths.
That could be a reflection of the high housing costs in Boulder County. The median single-family sales price for the city of Boulder, for example, approached $1.6 million in February, with Longmont at $600,000. February’s median sales price in the Greeley-Evans market was only $434,850.
“We saw this happen to Longmont years ago, where Longmont’s growth was really predicated on the affordability issue of folks who worked in Boulder but could not afford to live there and so moved to Longmont,” Werner said. “And now we’re seeing the same thing as our population growth increases, as our industries continue to grow, we’re seeing more interest in living close to the workplace.”
Nationally, five of the Top 10 largest-gaining counties in 2021, were in Texas, with Collin, Fort Bend, Williamson, Denton and Montgomery counties gaining a combined 145,663 residents.
- Los Angeles County, California, experienced the largest population loss of any county, losing 159,621 residents in 2021.
- Seventy-one percent of counties (2,218) experienced positive net international migration.
- Four counties crossed the threshold of 100,000 residents in 2021: Cleveland County, North Carolina (100,359); Lancaster County, South Carolina (100,336); Bastrop County, Texas (102,058); and Grant County, Washington (100,297).
- Los Angeles County, California (9,829,544), and Cook County, Illinois (5,173,146), had more than 5 million residents in 2021, making them the two most populous counties in the nation.