Franklin County has overtaken Benton County in population growth over the past year, ranking 7th in the state compared to 8th in its neighbor.
Franklin County, which has a population of 99,750, grew 1.42%, adding 1,400 people in 2022.
Benton County, which has a population of 212,300, grew 1.38%, adding an additional 2,900 people.
This brings the population of the bicounty area to 312,050.
The State Financial Management Office released the data on June 29.
Pasco ranked 11th in the state in population change in the last count. Richland placed 19th and Kennewick 22nd. Seattle, Bellingham, Lake Stevens, Lacey and Vancouver complete the top 5.
Unincorporated Benton County ranked No. 8 in the state for population growth, adding 685 people from 2021-22.
The state’s population has increased by 158,100 people since the 2020 Decennial Census on April 1, 2020, largely due to migration, to about 7.9 million people
The state’s total population change was 97,400 since last year, which fell just below the past decade’s average of 98,200 per year.
The unadjusted population growth rate is much faster than last year – 1.3% compared to 0.8% the previous year.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact population estimates, the state said.
“We saw a significant rebound in population numbers in 2021, which was driven by fewer people living together in collective dwellings. However, this is not the case in all cities. We found that the prison population continued to decline and people living in college housing had not fully recovered,” according to the state’s Office of Financial Management.
Migration stimulates growth
Migration continues to be the main driver of Washington’s population growth, according to OFM. From 2021 to 2022, net migration (inbound minus outbound) to Washington totaled 83,300. That’s 40,500 more than last year.
Net migration accounted for 86% of the state’s population growth, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the remaining 14%.
The state’s natural population increase of 14,100 has reached historic lows, with births declining more slowly than in recent years, but Covid-19 has increased the total number of deaths.
Effect of housing growth
Housing growth has remained a strong indicator of population growth in Washington.
“Despite strong housing growth, we recorded high occupancy rates in most cities and towns. Last year the state added 46,500 homes, 100 more than last year. Of the new units built last year, 58% were multi-family,” OFM said.
More than 71% of all new housing units in the past two years were built in one of the five largest metropolitan counties in the state. King County leads all counties with 17,100 new homes and recorded 37% of the state’s total housing growth this year.
Consistent with previous years, more than 67 percent of the state’s population growth has occurred in the past five
largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane. The eight counties with populations between 100,000 and 350,000 saw 20% of the state’s growth.
And counties with fewer than 100,000 had a 13% share, which was larger than usual due to more people living together in collective dwellings. Whitman, Kittitas and Whatcom are the three fastest growing counties, due to returning students.
Otherwise, the fastest growing county between 2021 and 2022 was San Juan, growing 1.7%. Spokane followed at 1.6% then Clark at 1.5%.
Components of state population change
The April 1, 2022 population estimate for Washington’s incorporated cities is 5,156,000, an increase of 1.6% from last year.
The top 10 cities for digital change, in descending order, are Seattle, Bellingham, Lake Stevens, Lacey, Vancouver, Pullman, Spokane Valley, Tacoma, Ridgefield and Spokane.
Seattle’s population grew by 20,100 people to a total of 762,500. For many of these 10 high growth cities, we found that a rebounding quarter population or annexation was a bigger factor in the increase in population than the growth of new housing.