Meridian projected growth

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Meridian and Nampa are the third and 10th fastest growing cities in the United States respectively, according to a metric that ranked 515 cities countrywide based on growth in population, jobs and other factors.

The list was compiled by college professors who studied a variety of growth-related factors for financial news site WalletHub. Boise checked in at 156th in the ranking, though local cities like Kuna, Caldwell and Eagle were not considered. Experts looked at cities with varying population sizes based on U.S. Census estimates, but their methodology for choosing the 515 cities sampled out of 19,501 incorporated U.S. cities is unclear. Smaller cities such as Twin Falls — which was mentioned for hitting the 50,000 mark in the Census release cited — were also left out.

Growth was measured based on 17 metrics that track cities’ socioeconomic trajectory. The study weighed population growth, job growth and increases in GDP per capita the most heavily, pulling most data from 2013-2019.

Nampa tied for first for the highest decrease in poverty rate on the list, and Meridian tied for first in population and job growth.

Meridian topped the list in “sociodemographic” rank, which combined growth in population, working-age population and the share of college-educated people in a city. The city was 76th in “jobs and economy,” which focuses on business climate and growth.

Meridian Chamber of Commerce CEO Sean Evans said, “It is always nice to be ranked high on lists like these, but they also sometimes can shine a light on some of the other challenges that we face as a community.”

“Meridian and other parts of the Treasure Valley are seeing a mass influx of people from the west coast seeking refuge from various natural and political changes. This rapid growth does bring its challenges and the Wallet Hub study highlights one of those challenges in the second part of its metrics — Jobs and Economy. … The increased cost of living due to home value increases will continue to make it a high priority that we focus on jobs that have a higher than average pay scale and that we recruit companies to locate their higher paying jobs right here in Meridian,” he said in an email.

According to a Boise Regional Realtors report on the first half of 2020, Ada County housing inventory dropped 37% from 2019, and the average days on the market fell 4.3%.

High demand and low inventory for housing culminated in median home prices eclipsing $400,000 for the first time in August. Those housing costs have fueled the need for higher paying jobs that Evans cites.

“We appreciate the ranking, but want to be careful that we keep our eye on growing the area in a sustainable way,” he said.

Blake Jones covers Kuna and Meridian for the Idaho Press. You can reach him at bjones@idahopress.com and follow him on Twitter @jonesblakej.

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