The DM metro is the fastest growing urban area in Iowa


  • Dallas County is the fastest growing county in the state
  • Dallas County’s population grew 21.2% in five years; the population has increased by 169% in 25 years
  • An estimated 80,133 residents live in Dallas County
  • Dallas County employment grew 19.9% ​​from 2010 to 2014; Polk County employment increased 7.3 percent; Statewide job growth was 4.4%

Driven by various employment opportunities, the Des Moines metro is Iowa’s fastest growing urban area. Its population has grown 9.4% since 2010, according to a new analysis.

Where Des Moines is booming, more than two-thirds of counties in Iowa have lost population.

Only counties near major urban areas such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Sioux City have experienced strong growth spurts over the past five years. Data from the US Census Bureau estimates that 71 of Iowa’s 99 counties lost residents while 28 counties gained in population.

Experts say rural-to-urban change has continued for decades in Iowa and the Midwest, with residents moving to areas with more jobs and a higher concentration of services.

Dallas County, which contains the western suburb of Des Moines, is the fastest growing county in the state, with 13,996 new residents since 2010. Johnson County, which includes Iowa City and Coralville, posted the second fastest growing, followed by Polk County.

The population of Dallas County has increased by 21.2% in five years. It has been on a steady upward trend since 1990. Gary Krob, coordinator of the State Data Center, which analyzes census estimates, said Dallas County’s population has grown 169% in 25 years. There are approximately 80,133 residents living in the county, which includes Adel and parts of Clive, Urbandale, Waukee, and West Des Moines.

While Dallas is the fastest growing county, Polk County is still the largest county in the state. It experienced the strongest population growth from 2010 to 2015, adding 37,076 inhabitants.

Liesl Eathington, assistant scientist at Iowa State University, said the state has seen growth concentrated in metropolitan areas for decades. This is due to a variety of factors, including employment – the number of jobs and the diversity of jobs available in metropolitan areas.

The number of jobs in Dallas County grew 19.9 percent from 2010 to 2014, while Polk County’s employment grew 7.3 percent, she said. Statewide job growth was 4.4 percent.

Corn plants grow in a wet farm field in 2013 near Prairie City, Ia.

Donna Burkett, bureau chief at Iowa Workforce Development, said technological change is a factor in labor migration. Farming operations in Iowa are now less labor-intensive, forcing people to leave rural communities for better opportunities, she said.

And new businesses usually don’t move to rural areas because the available workforce is small, she said. Almost 70 percent of all new business locations from 2010 to 2014 were in metro Iowa areas, according to the Quarterly Employment and Wage Census.

In turn, a larger workforce generally creates a better quality of life in terms of access to services and meeting needs.

“You have people who are drawn to metropolitan areas not only because of the jobs, but also because of the variety of offerings in schools, stores, medical services,” Eathington said. “It’s an attraction, but it also works the other way around. These things can be delivered more efficiently where there is a large population, which is why we tend to see more retail offerings. in metropolitan areas. “

This trend is evident in Waukee, where a rapid population growth has attracted interest from business and retail developers. According to city data, the number of residential building permits in Waukee has more than doubled in five years, from 204 in 2010 to 465 in 2015.

Dan Dutcher, the city’s director of community and economic development, said there are more development opportunities in Waukee than ever before. He said the city was “in the right place at the right time” in terms of growth, but had made efforts to prepare areas for development. Dutcher anticipates new commercial and retail development

Kettlestone, a 1,500-acre mixed-use area, is ready for development now that the new Interstate 80 interchange is open at Grand Prairie Parkway. And the developers have expressed interest in building along Hickman Road on the west side of town, where Fridley Theaters plans to build a 12-screen cinema.

CM Construction owner Doug Morrill of West Des Moines nails the framing of a wall as he builds a house Wednesday in Waukee.  Dallas County is the fastest growing county in Iowa.  Andrea Melendez / The Register CM Construction workers build a house in Waukee Wednesday afternoon on Fox Run Trail.  Dallas County is the fastest growing county in Iowa.  CM Construction owner Dough Morrill of West Des Moines nails the framing of a wall as he builds a house.

Census data showed Clinton County, located along the Mississippi River between Davenport and Dubuque, experienced the largest population decline, losing 1,348 residents since 2015. Adams, in southwest Iowa , is the least populated county in the state, with 3,796 people.

Data are calculated from reported births, deaths, national migration and international migration.

Other information published Thursday:

  • The population of the state of Iowa increased by 6.75%, to reach 3,123,899 from 2010 to 2015. It is the 30th largest state in the country. The population of Iowa in 2050 is expected to be 3,474,647.
  • Over half of Iowa’s population lives in 10 counties: Polk, Linn, Scott, Johnson, Black Hawk, Woodbury, Dubuque, Story, Pottawattamie, and Dallas. All 10 counties are considered to be part of a metropolitan area.
  • Cities with large universities are growing rapidly. Iowa City and Ames were the second and third fastest growing subways in the state, behind Des Moines. Iowa City was up 9.1 percent and Ames was up 7.2 percent.
  • Seventy-eight counties recorded a net migration loss, with more people leaving the county than settling there.
  • Of those who moved to Dallas County, more than 91% were domestic servants.
  • Eight counties are responsible for 76.1% of international migration in Iowa: Polk, Johnson, Story, Linn, Woodbury, Black Hawk, Jefferson and Marshall.

The State Data Center is working to increase the availability of census data in Iowa. It is a unit of the State Library of Iowa.


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