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Entries in population estimates (6)


Washington County Cities are Growing

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Washington County Cities are Growing

All 8 Cities in Washington County are estimated by the US Census Bureau to be growing since 2010. That is impressive since only 243 out of 944 Cities in Iowa are estimated to be growing. That is only 26% growing and 74% declining.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Ainsworth 584 567 3.00% 17
Brighton 659 655 0.60% 4
Crawfordsville 270 264 2.30% 6
Kalona 2,534 2,371 6.90% 163
Riverside 1,039 993 4.60% 46
Washington 7,424 7,270 2.10% 154
Wellman 1,424 1,411 0.90% 13
West Chester 148 146 1.40% 2


Underlying that growth are three important factors. Washington County has more births than deaths. In addition, Washington County has a positive migration flow, both domestically and internationally. More people are moving in to Washington County than moving out.

In fact, Washington County is one of only 13 counties in Iowa to have positive natural growth, and positive domestic and international migration, ranking 9th.

54 Iowa Counties had more births than deaths between 2010 and 2016. However, only 20 Counties had a positive migration flow (more people moving in than moving out). Most Iowa Counties are experiencing an exodus.

Below is a table showing the change in population of many cities in Iowa's Creative Corridor and in Southeast Iowa. Its a mixed bag of growth and decline throughout the region.

City est 2016 2010 % change Num change
Tiffin 3,006 1,947 54.40% 1,059
North Liberty 18,520 13,391 38.30% 5,129
Marion 38,480 35,141 9.50% 3,339
Iowa City 74,398 67,946 9.50% 6,452
Coralville 20,397 18,912 7.90% 1,485
Fairfield 10,206 9,466 7.80% 740
Lone Tree 1,388 1,302 6.60% 86
Cedar Rapids 131,127 126,441 3.70% 4,686
Williamsburg 3,179 3,068 3.60% 111
Monticello 3,836 3,784 1.40% 52
Muscatine 23,914 23,772 0.60% 142
Oskaloosa 11,523 11,502 0.20% 21
Tipton 3,217 3,221 -0.10% -4
Wayland 952 965 -1.30% -13
Burlington 25,277 25,625 -1.40% -348
Anamosa 5,430 5,537 -1.90% -107
Ottumwa 24,487 25,023 -2.10% -536
Vinton 5,143 5,257 -2.20% -114
Columbus Junction 1,848 1,896 -2.50% -48
Mount Pleasant 8,392 8,668 -3.20% -276
Sigourney 1,987 2,059 -3.50% -72
Richland 559 584 -4.30% -25
Keota 966 1,011 -4.50% -45

Data Source: US Census Bureau,

In fact, most economic trends in Washington County are positive. We have increasing:

  • Population
  • Laborforce
  • Jobs
  • Income
  • Retail Sales

Feel free to view/download this 4Mb pdf slide deck of economic data charts and graphs to learn more.



Washington's Growth Century & Annual Dinner

The Washington Economic Development Group, Washington Chamber of Commerce, and Main Street Washington celebrated their 2017 Annual Dinner on March 27th with 289 friends at the Events Center at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. Its a great networking event for local and Creative Corridor business and community leaders. Check out the event photo album on FaceBook.

WEDG was pleased to award its 2016 Harvey Holden Special Service award to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. Since 2006, the Riverboat Foundation has awarded over $38 million through over 1,000 grants. They have made a big impact across Washington County and the Creative Corridor.

WEDG also honored Dan Franz for his leadership as WEDG Board President in 2016. Franz is the General Manager at the Riverisde Casino and Golf Resort. Washington County Hospital CEO, Dennis Hunger, is the 2017 WEDG Board President. We also welcomed new board directors, Lynn Koch of Federation Bank, and Amanda Russell of Bazooka Farmstar. Click here for a full 2017 board director list.

Ed's Remarks at the Annual Dinner

Washington County has seen a lot so far this 21st century. We've experienced ups and downs including a deep recession, and just last quarter Modine Manufacturing closed for good. But there are actually over 1,600 more jobs in Washington County in 2016 than in 2001. In fact, there has never been a year with more jobs in Washington County than 2016. We peaked in the summer with over 8,500 non-farm jobs.

Those job gains are primarily because of growth within existing business and industry, and from entrepreneurial startups.

People come from all over to work those jobs in Washington County. But even those that commute out are bringing their money back. Over $100 million in annual payroll from Johnson County jobs comes back to Washington County residents.

Washington County's population is growing too. We've added over 570 people since 2010, a 2.6% increase. That is why our labor force keeps hitting record highs too - 12,900 this fall. People are moving to Washington County. We're also growing the old fashioned too (more births than deaths...).

Many of our rural neighbor and peer counties in Southeast Iowa or in the Creative Corridor are not so fortunate. 

Something else has changed in Washington County over the last 20 years. Our retail sales are climbing, and have been for a decade. In the late 1990s, Washington County was at the bottom of retail sales compared to our neighboring peer counties.

Since 2006 (pre-recession even), Washington County's retail sales have rocketed from $124 million to $194 million in 2016. That is a $70 million increase, a 56% increase. And the increase isn't just in Washington; the increases are also in Kalona, Wellman, and Riverside. Those vibrate economies in Washington County's small communities is one of the most special things about our area.

Today, Washington County is at the top of the heap in retail sales compared to our surrounding peer counties. Why? People move here. People come here to shop. They shop at big stores, new stores, old stores, downtown stores. (it is worth noting that Main Street Washington's focus on improving downtown began in 2008.)

Mostly though, Washington County and area residents are spending more of their retail dollars in Washington County. Shopping locally.  

Don't forget that retail sales impacts local cities and the County. Big growth in retail sales has resulted in big growth in Local Option Sales Tax revenues. For example, in FY2005, Washington County received just $656,000 in LOST revenues. In FY2016, Washington County received over $1.1 million in LOST revenue.

WEDG's mission is to create and promote an environment for economic development. Slowly and frequently behind the scenes, WEDG is helping to create the place that you want to be.

Now we need your help. WEDG is beginning our 2017-2019 Pledge Drive. When we reach out to you shortly to renew your pledge or to ask you to make a new pledge, we hope that you will help us.

We appreciate your support.


Washington County population growing

Washington County's population continues to slowly climb, according to the US Census Bureau. Most rural and non-metro Iowa counties have lost population over the last 5 years. Washington County grew by 543 or 2.5% since 2010 to 22,247. At this rate, Washington County will surpass 23,000 population by about 2022.

A look at the components of population change will really open your eyes. Are there more births than deaths? Is domestic (US) migration showing people moving into or away from a county. Same with international migration.

In Southeast Iowa, Washington County hits the trifecta of population change over the past five years. There are significantly more births than deaths, like 327. People move in and out of Washington County all the time. But over 200 more people moved in to Washington County from other places in Iowa or the US compared to moving out. And there is a modest but positive gain from international migration in to Washington County.

In fact, besides Johnson and Linn Counties (and Scott County), only Washington County has experienced a positive population increase from domestic migration in Southeast Iowa. That is remarkable. Washington County was 10th in Iowa for positive domestic migration, even including the big metro counties (and places like Dallas and Warren Counties).

If nothing else, Washington County communities have worked very hard over the last decade to make Washington County an attractive and desirable place to live and work. That strategy may be paying off by attracting new residents.

Neighboring sister counties, like Jefferson County (Fairfield) had an even larger population increase than Washington County. However, most all of this increase is from international migration, tempered by domestic out-migration, and more deaths than births.

If you'd like to chec out the population estimate data for every county in Iowa (or all the States) check it out on the Iowa State Data Center's web site.


In addition to the US Census Bureau's population estimates for 2015, Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) reports on monthly laborforce changes, and unemployment rates.

Washington County continues to have a strong and growing laborforce, compared to many other rural counties in Southeast Iowa. Washington County's laborforce of 12,700 is one of the region's largest, which is remarkable considering it was only 9,500 in the early 1990s.

Henry County (Mt. Pleasant) is 2,000 people smaller than Washington County, but its laborforce is 3,000 less. Mahaska County (Oskaloosa) is almost identical to Washington County in population, but its laborforce is 1,000 less.

Washington County's unemployment rate did creep up to 3.9% in February, following trends around Iowa and the US.

In the next blog post, we'll highlight the recently released Washington County Laborshed Analysis completed by IWD. More maps and tables to enjoy.



Unemployment drops, Population Grows

Washington County's unemployment level fell to 3.3% in April, 2014. This is mostly due to the labor force contracting a bit from 12,600 in March to 12,500 in April, which resulted in a drop in the number of unemployed. Employment held steady at 12,000, which is historically very high.

Virtually all counties in Southeast Iowa had significant drops in unemployment. Most Southeast Iowa counties had a slight contraction in labor force, which accounts for a big part of the drop in unemployment rate.

Washington County had 192 persons receiving unemployment benefits, which is a little less than half the total 400 unemployed persons. Of those, 27 received their first unemployment benefits in April, while 18 had their final unemployment payment in April.

Statewide, the labor force grew, and so did the number of employed person, while the number of unemployed dropped.

The State and County data in this article is from the Labor Market and Economic Research Bureau of the Iowa Workforce Development.


The US Census Bureau recently released estimates of 2013 city populations. This isn't the Decenial Census, but some educated estimates. Take the exact estimates with a grain of salt.

In 2010, the 946 Iowa cities had a population of 2,405,493 (of the total State population of 3,046,355). The municipal population was about 5/6 of the total state population, only 1/6 was rural (not in a city). In 2013, Iowa's municipal population had grown to 2,452,337, a net increase of 46,844.

Of Iowa's 946 incorporated cities, about a third, 343 either held steady or had a population increase from 2010 to 2013. These 343 cities collectively increased in population by 57,902 from 2010 to 2013, from 1,442,322 to 1,500,224.

All 8 cities in Washington County experienced population growth.

The 10 fastest growing cities in Iowa, in terms of numeric increases are:  Ankeny, West Des Moines, iowa City, Des Moines, Waukee, Ames, Johnston, Davenport, Urbandale, and Cedar Rapids. Polk County had 6 of these 10 fast growers.

The 10 fastest growing cities in Iowa, in terms of percentage increases are:  Waukee, Tiffin, Bondurant, Polk City, Wiley, Hills, Johnston, Asbury, Grimes, and Ankeny. Six of these cities are in Polk County (but several different cities from the other fast growing list).

Of Iowa's 946 incorporated cities, 603, or almost 2/3, had an estimated population decline from 2010 to 2013. Collectively, the 603 cities declined in population by a total of 11,058.

The 10 fastest decling cities in Iowa, in terms of numeric decreases are: Fort Dodge, Clinton, Mason City, Council Bluffs, Estherville, Sioux City, Webster City, and Ottumwa. Together, these 10 cities declined by 2,793, or 25% of the total decline by all 603 cities with declines.

In Washington County, the City of Washington had the largest population increase from 2010 to 2013, gaining 100 for a total of 7,370, making it Iowa's 54th largest city. Riverside and Kalona had the largest percentage population increase. Notably, Riverside has now surpassed the 1,000 threshold, which is redeamable for a free cup of coffee.


You can check out the 2012 estimates reported a year ago in this blog.

You can also check out the 2013 Iowa County estimates reported earlier this Spring. There was also some info on the impact of migration and births/deaths on the population estimates.


Hey, Washington County is growing!

Washington County continues to experience slow and steady growth over the past three years. The US Census Bureau's estimates that Washington County grew by 311 people, or 1.4% between 2010 and 2013. That was good enough to be the 14th fastest growing county in Iowa, both in terms of the numeric growth and the percentage increase.


It is sobering to note that only 29 of 99 counties are estimated to have positive population change over the past 3 years. Also for some perspective, neighboring Johnson County is estimated to have grown by 8,273, an amount larger than the City of Washington.

That modest growth pushed Washington County's population to 22,015.

Washington County is the 28th largest county in Iowa, and that ranking hasn't changed. However, if current growth rates continue, by the 2010 census, Washington County is likely to overtake Mahaska County to be the 27th largest county.

Washington County's growth is due to two factors. There were 134 more births than deaths over the past three years. Plus there were 178 people that moved to Washington County from elsewhere in the US.

Nearby sister rural counties generally did not fair as well. Henry County had much more modest growth, but most counties like Louisa, Keokuk, Cedar, Iowa, Jones and Jefferson Counties had a decline in population.

The data is available on Iowa's Data Center web site.