By the Numbers: Routt County’s census and economic migration |

By the Numbers: Routt County’s census and economic migration

Scott Ford/For the Steamboat Pilot & Today

Scott Ford

— At its simplest level, economic analysis counts bucks (the dollars) and bodies (the people associated with those dollars). One of the most interesting data sets released to the public annually combines both. This data set is the IRS master file, and new data was released in July.

This data set is the annual collection of a host of information extracted from the individual form 1040 filed by taxpayers across the nation. As you can imagine, there are all sorts of data goodies contained in this file (no names, only aggregated data). One of the data elements in this massive file is county-to-county migration data. Simply put, this shows from one year to the next who moved into the county, who moved out of the county and who stayed put.

A deeper look at this data allows us to see not only the number of people (bodies) but the adjusted gross income (bucks) associated with these folks. The data shows the moving activity that occurred within the state and also out of the state of Colorado as well as what occurred in Routt County.

This level of data is valuable because when averaged on a per-return (household) basis, it provides insight to see whether lower or higher income households are coming or going, where are they going and where are they from.

In Routt County from the 2004 through 2010, 6,148 households moved in and 5,630 moved out for a net gain of 518. When viewed from an income perspective, the households moving in brought in an aggregate $350 million and those moving out took $240 million for a net gain to the county of more than $100 million. At the individual household level, the households moving in had annual income of about $57,000 on average compared with $43,000 on average annually for those leaving.

Of the 6,148 households that moved into the area during this period, about 60 percent arrived from out of state. Folks who moved from within Colorado accounted for 35 percent, and those arriving from a foreign country accounted for 5 percent.

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Of the $350 million in household income, 62 percent was associated with folks arriving from out of state. Those folks who lived somewhere in Colorado before moving to Routt County represented 37 percent of the total income. Those moving here from a foreign country represented less than 1 percent.

For each of the years in this period, the number of dependents claimed by those moving in exceeded the number of dependents claimed by those moving out on average. This is most likely because households with dependent children are moving into the area in greater numbers than those moving out.

Scott L. Ford has lived in Steamboat Springs for 21 years and is the principal partner in The Pinnacle Economic Research Group. Ford can be reached at

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