Census population map

Interactive population maps from Census Bureau

It’s hardly news that the West’s population is booming, but which counties in region are growing fastest? How has the demographic profile of Western states been changing?

The U.S. Census Bureau offers up some great interactive maps that depict population changes between 2000 and 2010. These maps, which you can embed in websites and blogs, also show how the racial composition of states changed during the first decade of the 21st century.

I’ve compiled the maps for all 11 Western states on this page, which also includes a national overview.

Some rural counties losing residents

Below is an example from Colorado. Although the state’s overall population rose 17% from 2000 to 2010, plenty of counties actually lost residents during the decade. The shrinking counties are found in rural, agricultural regions, while many of the fastest growing counties are located near cities in the Front Range, from Fort Collins to Denver to Colorado Springs, and along the state’s Western Slope. This same pattern of declining rural populations holds true in some other Western states, such Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Latino population rising

One of the most striking trends is the sharp rise in the number of Latino residents. Below is a map for Nevada, which saw its Latino population increase by 82% from 2000 to 2010. Every state in the region experienced strong growth in Latino residents, ranging from 25% in New Mexico and 28% in California, which already had large Latino populations in 2000, to 73% in Idaho and 78% in Utah, which ranked third and second behind Nevada. Overall, the Latino share of the U.S. population increased 41% from 2000 to 2010.

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