- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The population of central Iowa’s Dallas County grew by 3.5 percent from a year earlier, the largest such gain in the state, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data show the suburban Des Moines county grew to more than 74,600 residents by July 1 of last year, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1eTCfC5 ). That’s an increase of 3.5 percent over the preceding 12 months. The county population has jumped nearly 13 percent since the 2010 U.S. Census.

Eight of Iowa’s nine metropolitan areas had population increases in the latest estimates, while rural counties had population declines. More than 60 Iowa counties - nearly two-thirds of the state - lost population last year.

Local officials say factors that have contributed to that trend are more employment opportunities, higher wages, choices in schools and other amenities available in metropolitan areas.


“People place different weights on those, but taken as a bundle it explains why people tend to move toward urban areas,” said Liesl Eathington, an assistant scientist with the department of economics at Iowa State University. “What we’re seeing are pretty persistent trends across the state and the Midwest.”

The bureau estimates that Iowa’s population in 2013 was nearly 3.1 million. It grew 0.5 percent last year, placing it 30th in the U.S. It marks slow but continued growth following declines in the 1980s.

Most of the state’s metro areas are growing at a faster pace that others in the Midwest, according to the report. The metro areas of Des Moines-West Des Moines and Iowa City both grew by 1.8 percent.

“Employers go where the talent is and people go to areas that have seen success,” said Mark Nolte, president of the Iowa City Area Development Group. “It’s become a cycle over time, and I see us maintaining and continuing to grow for the foreseeable future.”

___

Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com