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Wanna Know Idaho Looks Into The Age Demographics Of The West Central Mountains

Heath Druzin
Boise State Public Radio
An abondoned building on Highway 55 north of Cascade.

Depending on where you live in Idaho, the average age of your neighbors will vary. One of our Wanna Know Idaho podcast listeners wanted to know more about the age of folks in the West Central Mountains. Below is a snapshot of what we learned. To learn more about the forces at work with the average age of folks in the West Central Mountains, listen to the full episode here

Question asker Melissa Hamilton wondered: Why is it that folks who live in the West Central Mountain region seem to be older than in other parts of the state? To answer this question, I called Sam Wolkenhauer. He’s an economist with the state Department of Labor, who confirmed Melissa’s observation: 

“This is pretty typical for rural Idaho in general," says Sam Wolkenhauer. "This is a pretty broad-based rural phenomenon, that rural Idaho is getting much older than the urban areas.”  

According to Census data, about 24 percent of the people who live in Valley County are 65 or older, while about 28 percent of the population of Adams County are in retirement age. Compare that to Ada County, where just about 14 percent of residents are seniors. 

Wolkenhauer says the older age of folks in the West Central Mountains can be attributed to two main factors: more and more Baby Boomers are moving to the region as they retire, and young folks are moving away in large numbers to urban areas for college and jobs. He says some of those young people may eventually move back, but only if the labor market supports them.


For more 'Wanna Know Idaho' content, follow host Frankie Barnhill on Twitter

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