A new Census Bureau report is just out, tallying the growth from July 1, 2007 to July 1, 2008. Cities with universities do particularly well, with Raleigh, N.C. and Austin, Texas heading the list. Places with research centers also stand out, thanks to government spending: Idaho Falls is 8th fastest, for instance, and that may also explain the Tri Cities' growth rate, where the Kennewick region comes in 3rd.
Another plus is a state capitol. Olympia comes in 15th, Boise is 34th, and Salem is 67th. Here's how some other Northwest cities fare: Bend is 13th, Bellingham (with a university) is 39th, Denver (another state capitol) is 40th, and Spokane is 91st. As for the rivals Portland and Seattle, the Oregon city continues to outpace Seattle in growth, as it did all through the booming 90s, coming in 55th and registering a regional population of 2,207,462 and an one-year growth rate of 1.9 percent. Seattle, 100th on the list, grew 1.4 percent and now has a regional population of 3,344,813.
NewWest has an interesting discussion of these trends, noting how many fast growing cities are smallish, amenity-rich places in the Mountain West. The attractive formula is no longer big, sprawling, subprime-mortgage zones like Phoenix and Las Vegas, but instead affordable cities that are not too remote and have an anchor institution. Call it the Kennewick Syndrome.