Johnson County is the second- fastest-growing county in Iowa, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday. The census data estimate that from 2010 to 2015, Johnson County’s population grew by 10.2 percent, or 13,369 residents, bringing the estimated county population to 144,251. It was one of 28 of the state’s 99 counties that gained residents during that period. “You have two things in Johnson County, the University of Iowa and you have jobs. Employment drives everything, and then with the university on top of that, it’s also going to help with the population growth,” said Gary Krob, coordinator of the State Data Center. The estimates Thursday showed that Dallas County had the most significant growth, with a 21.2 percent jump from 2010 to 2015. Estimates were based on several factors, including reported births, deaths, domestic and international migration rates, and statewide counts of prisons, college and university dormitories and nursing homes, Krob said. Johnson County also isone of eight across the state that make up 76.1 percent of international migration, the data show, along with Polk, Story, Linn, Woodbury, Black Hawk, Jefferson and Marshall. According to breakdowns, Johnson County added 4,825 international migrants and 2,394 domestic migrants. “Story County is up there with the international migration as well, with Iowa State University, but the university is not going to be the only factor in international migration with Johnson County, but it is definitely a factor,” Krob said. There also were an estimated 9,407 births and 3,403 deaths in Johnson County during that fiveyearperiod. Polk County, which posted an 8.6 percent increase in population, recorded the largest population growth, adding 37,076 residents. The county has an estimated population of 467,711, making it Iowa’s largest in terms of population. In terms of local growth, North Liberty on Wednesday announcedthat the Census Bureau’s final population count after a special census was 18,299, up 37 percent from the last census conducted in the city. The Census Bureau’s official count, completed in 2010, showed North Liberty had a population of 13,374. Johnson County Supervisor Janelle Rettig said she believes that her county is “a magnet,” and that while its popularity cannot be attributed to any one factor, the board has taken notice ofthe growth. “From my perspective, we see it every day through demand on services, especially on road traffic counts, social services and people needing assistance. You just see it every time you’re out in all of our communities,” Rettig said. “It’s also interesting because Dallas County is No. 1 in growth, but it’s a much smaller county. During that time, Johnson County is now we are the fourth-largest in the state, and we’re the second- fastest-growing.” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said that while thegrowth is good for the county, it also comes at a cost. “It’s kind of a doubleedged sword. There’s a lot of good that comes from it, like good-paying jobs, people coming from all over the world and a lot of other exciting things,” Sullivan said. “But there are also downsides. Rental rates are very high, schools are crowded, our roads are sometimes a little crowded and costs for social service needs are higher, just growing pains. “We’ve been consulting with our peers in other places in the region to address a lot of those things, but overall we’re in a great place,” he said.
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