(The Center Square) – The Tri-Cities area has seen the fastest population growth of any area in Washington over the past 10 years, according to 2020 U.S. Census data.
The largest population change in the state occurred in Franklin County, which grew by 24%. Nearby Benton County grew about 18%, which is higher than the state average of 14.6%, according to the census report.
Much of the growth of the Tri-Cities has been tied to the Hispanic population, which according to the census makes up 50% of Franklin County’s population and nearly 24% of Benton County.
Census data shows that between 2010 and 2020, Franklin’s Hispanic population grew by more than 31%. In Benton County, it’s up nearly 51%.
The population of Kennewick is approximately 82,633 and that of Pasco is 74,266. Richland has a population of 57,353. The combined metropolitan area is now the third largest in Washington, behind Spokane and Seattle.
Growth in eastern Washington is reflected in census data as a mix of natural increase due to births exceeding deaths, but also as low house prices and the pandemic opening up opportunities for people to move in rural areas and working remotely.
Kennewick, Pasco and Richland are in a very job-creating area that attracts many people, according to the Tri-City Development Council.
Jobs are available in technology manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare. Major employees are Battelle/Pacific National Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Bechtel National, Amazon, and Tyson Fresh Meats.
Housing demand in the Tri-Cities is not keeping pace with population growth, reports the Tri-City Association of Realtors
In June, the median home was selling for $440,000, down from $385,000 in 2021 and $309,500 in 2019. While that puts mortgage payments beyond some families, Tri-Cities households earn a median annual income $72,538 and 48.98% earn more. than the national average.
According to census data, there are 39% more owner households than renters.