County's population up from 2000

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Routt County's population increased 2 percent from 2002, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Although 2 percent translates to an increase of about 400 people to 20,800 residents in 2003, small changes eventually can mean big growth.

"Even relatively small changes on a regular basis add up," said Routt County Planner John Eastman, who tracks census information for the county. "It's not very long at 2 percent a year before you've doubled your population."

At a steady 2 percent rate, the county's population would double in 35 years, Eastman said.

The last time the county's population doubled, it did it in about 25 years, he said, so a 2 percent rate represents something of a slow down. But it is significant.

Eastman compared population growth to compounding values in 401(k) accounts, which add just a few percentage points a year to amount to real growth down the line.

The population data released Thursday was a comparison between April 1, 2003, and July 1, 2000, an almost three-year timespan.

During that period, Routt County's population grew 5.6 percent, or a gain of about 1,100 people, compared with the state population's growth of 5.8 percent.

Routt County was the 23rd fastest growing county in the state over the three-year period.

Nearby Moffat County saw a 2.6 percent growth in population, and nearby Rio Blanco County saw a 0.8 percent decrease in population.

For Northwestern Colorado, Eagle and Garfield counties saw the most growth, with 10.5 percent and 8.7 percent increases, respectively, in the past three years.

Douglas County, south of Denver, was the fastest growing county in the state with a population increase of 27 percent. Douglas was the third fastest growing county in the nation for the three-year period, with Loudoun County, Va., and Chattahoochee County, Ga., ranking first and second, respectively.

Other Colorado counties that made the nationwide list of the 100 fastest growing counties were: Weld County, Archuleta County, Park County, Saguache County and Elbert County.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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