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Nez Perce County Comprehensive Plan




Public development s are based on population distribution and anticipated growth patterns. An understanding of the physical, social, economic, cultural and political environments that influence Nez Perce County's growth is necessary to develop realistic land use plans.

Research, background inventory, data collection and analysis of population and growth aims at understanding the demand that will be placed on the land resource and the capacity of the land and services to support the growth. This data is then used to plan for the desired community.

A variety of demographic sources have been utilized to present the most likely population and growth scenario. Additional information concerning population and growth is available in the Idaho Power Company's County Economic Forecast, 1997 and the U.S. Census, 1990.


Click for Figure 9-1
(Historic Population Pattern)

Historic Population Pattern

The latest U.S. Census, 1990, counted 33,754 people living within Nez Perce County. Figure 9-1 and Table 9-1 show the historic population of the Nez Perce County, separating out the incorporated areas from the unincorporated areas. It is interesting to

Click for Table 9-1
(Historic Populations)

Historic Populations

note that since 1970 the unincorporated areas have been growing more rapidly in population than the incorporated areas. This is an indication that people migrating to Nez Perce County do so because they prefer a rural lifestyle.

Click for Figure 9-2
(Population Change)

Population Change

Table 9-2 shows the percent change of population for 10 year periods between 1960 and 1990. This percent change was steady for the twenty-year period between 1960 and 1980 averaging an annual rate of change of 1 percent. Annual rate of change for Nez Perce County population between 1980 and 1990 dipped to a mere 0.2 percent. This rate was lower than the Idaho statewide rate of 6.6 percent indicating a large out-migration of residents during that decade.

The first half of the 1990's shows a large improvement in county wide population growth. The rate is approaching a level rate of growth of 1 percent per year.

Click for Table 9-2
(Population Change
1960 - 2020)

Population Change 1960-2020


This population profile (Figure 9-3) is a comparison of the county population for the years 1960, 1970, 1980 and 1990. The profile shows that there has been a decrease in the 0-5 and 5-9 year age groups. This reflects a decrease in the birth rate between these years.

The profile shows a significant increase in 25-44 age group between 1970 and 1980 and then again between 1980 and 1990. This indicates a movement of people to the area that affects the available labor force and economy, since these age groups provide a large segment of the area employment base. The profile shows that though all age groups are expected to be significantly larger in total number of persons, there are specific age groups, such as the 14-and-under group, that will show a relative percentage decline. The largest increase in population will come in the 20-35 year age group, indicating that there should be a growing labor force within the area.

Click for Figure 9-3
(Population Profile)

Population Profile


A series of population forecasts was prepared for the years 2000, 2010 and 2020. Each forecast in the series is based on a different set of assumptions concerning the future growth of Nez Perce County (Table 9-3 and Figure 9-4).

  1. Idaho Power Company's Projection. This is based upon the rate of growth in the non-agricultural employment sector. This projects the lowest growth rate of all the alternatives.
  2. This alternative assumes a continuation of the long-term (1960-1990) rate of population increase through 2020. This alternative ranks as the median projection.
  3. The current rate of population change was assumed to continue until 2000. The rate of population increase from 2000 to 2020 would return to the 1980 to 1990 rate.
  4. Assumes that the Nez Perce County rate of growth would be the same as the State of Idaho rate. The Idaho Department of Commerce provided state population and rates of increase.
  5. Assumes that the 1990 to 1996 rate of population increase would continue through 2000. The population gain from 2000 to 2020 assumed only natural increase of in-migration equal to out-migration
  6. Assumes that the 1990 to 1996 rate of population increase would continue through 2000. The long-term 1960 to 1990 rate of population increase was applied to the 2000 to 2020 time-frame.
  7. This alternative assumes that the 1990 to 1996 rate of population increase would continue through to 2020. This alternative represents the highest growth rate of all the alternatives.
  8. The Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) chose to alter alternative number six in the following manner.
  9. Assumes that the 1990 to 1996 rate of population increase would continue through 2005. The long-term 1960 to 1990 rate of population increase was applied to the 2005 to 2020 time-frame.

The CAC reasoned that recent growth will continue over the next few years after which they expect to return to a slower population growth due to the consolidation of small family farms into larger corporate operations. The farming community is expected to decline and many long time farmers may retire and move out of the county. This out-migration is expected to be partially offset by other retirees attracted by Nez Perce County's mild weather moving into the area. There was also discussion that increased property taxation, county building and zoning regulations, and state and federal environmental regulations will slow county growth.

Click for Figure 9-4
Population Projection Alternatives

Population Projection Alternatives

Click for Table 9-3
Population Projection Alternatives

Population Projection Alternatives


Goal Statement:

To ensure that county provided services and amenities are appropriate for current and future population levels.


  1. Nez Perce County should monitor demographic changes each two to five years to maintain current knowledge of population growth trends.
  2. Nez Perce County should update the population forecast each two to five years.
  3. Nez Perce County should plan public facilities, services, and amenities for future population growth as forecasted by the CAC and as this forecast is updated in the future.

Population Strategy Chart


Planning & Building
Office Location
Brammer Building
1225 Idaho Street
Lewiston, ID 83501

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 896
Lewiston, ID 83501



Alison Tompkins

E-mail Alison

Building Official

Kile Allen

E-mail Kile

Senior Customer Service Specialist

Cody Lorentz

E-mail Cody

Planning & Zoning

Commission Chairman

Frank Dillon

Vice Chairman

Shawn Wentworth


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