County population continues to grow

Apr 4, 2013 Staff

Wyoming's 10 most-populous counties (2012 estimate)

1. Laramie County --92,487

2. Natrona County --76,356

3. Campbell County --47874

4. Sweetwater County --45,267

5. Fremont County --41,110

6. Albany County --37,276

7. Sheridan County --29,596

8. Park County --28,702

9. Teton County --21,675

10. Uinta County --21,025

Fremont County has grown steadily since the 2010 census, adding nearly 1,000 residents.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its latest county population estimates as of July 2012. Although the figures are based on data that is nearly a year old, they represent the latest official estimate available of county-by-county population in the state.

As reported through the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information, Fremont County grew by 987 residents between the official 2010 head count and the July 2012 estimate. That put the county's population at 41,110, the first time it has topped the 41,000 mark in the eyes of the Census Bureau.

The figure represents population growth over 2011 as well. Census Bureau estimators put in Fremont County's population 40,575 a year after the census, up 452 from the official 2010 figure. The county added another 535 residents last year to arrive at the new estimate of 41,110.

Fremont County's growth rate from 2011 to 2012 was 1.3 percent, slightly slower than a 1.6 percent growth rate statewide. Since the 2010 census, the county's rate of growth has been even stronger, 2.5 percent.

Just five of Wyoming's 23 counties have a larger population than Fremont County. Laramie County (Cheyenne) has the state's largest population at 92,487. Natrona County (Casper) is next at 76,621, with Campbell County (Gillette) and Sweetwater County (Rock Springs/Green River) both larger than Fremont County at 47,874 and 45,267, respectively. All four of the larger counties registered growth rates greater than Fremont County's from 2011 to 2012.

Eighteen counties registered growth over the year, with five shrinking. Losing population at the fastest rate was Niobrara County (Lusk), down 1.3 percent.

Census estimates do not incorporate actual door-to-door head counts, but use birth records, death records and employment figures instead. Analysts give the most weight to in-county births in calculating growth in Fremont County. Births numbered 599 during the estimate year, compared to 271 deaths, for a net increase of 328.

Job migration, with accompanying household members, accounted for the remaining 207 residents since the previous estimate.

More growth is likely, particularly in Fremont and other energy producing counties. Senior economist Wenlin Liu of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information, said "the state's overall energy market is expected to improve" in 2013, "so the uptrend and population movement to the state may follow."

Liu noted that the statewide job gains during the first six months of 2012 hit 2 percent, the best rate since 2008.

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