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Population growth and expansion information

  • There are over 1.5 million residents in the Inland Northwest.
    • Spokane County, Washington, and Kootenai County, Idaho, with a combined population of over 600,000, is the largest metropolitan area.
  • As the region’s primary economic, service, retail, and cultural center, the metropolitan area is dominated by trade and service industries.
    • The two communities, located approximately 30 miles apart, are connected by Interstate 90.  

Population trends

Spokane, along with other areas in the Inland Northwest, enjoyed relatively rapid in-migration throughout the first half of the 1990s.  The recession in California in the early 1990s and the lure of relatively inexpensive housing and high-tech jobs drove people to the Pacific Northwest and the Inland Northwest.  Growth slowed toward the end of that decade.

City of Spokane Valley: The incorporation of the City of Spokane Valley in early 2003 impacted the unincorporated county population.  With 90,110 residents, the 39 square mile city is the seventh largest in the state.

City of Spokane and Spokane County: Although the City of Spokane grew by over 10% in the 1990s, the smaller incorporated communities grew at a combined 24%. Spokane County’s total population increased by over 15%, while unincorporated portions of the county grew 20%, due largely to readily available land for both residential and commercial development.

Where people are coming from: Foreign competition and environmental-related government regulation stifled growth in the area’s timber and mining industries in the 1980s. The sluggish population increases during the decade reflected a natural increase of births over deaths, rather than an influx of population from other areas.

Population reporting sources: Population projections released by Washington State in October 2007, in compliance with Washington’s Growth Management Act, predict a 41.07% increase from 2000 to 2030, slightly more than 1.4% per year.  Although the estimates developed by the Census Bureau indicate slow growth in recent years, other data suggest that actual growth has been far more rapid. 

In June 2009, Avista Corporation, Spokane's largest energy provider, published the area population forecasts, which is far more aggressive in the short term, reflecting the corporation's need to satisfy anticipated energy demands. Avista’s long-term projection estimates the county population will increase by 41.03% from 2000 to 2030, or about 1.4%/year on average. Both estimates are nearly identical.  The anticipated population growth of 1.4%/year range is estimated, which is consistent with historic growth patterns.

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