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Is work-from-home increasing the population in the Mountain States?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Idaho and Montana are two of the fastest growing states in the country. Stop us if you’ve heard that before.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey” data again shows what most of us already knew. Between 2020 to 2021, Idaho saw a population increase of 3.4%, while Montana saw a jump of 1.8%. Washington and Wyoming, however, saw only 0.4% and 0.3% increases respectively.

The American Community Survey is different from the Census in that the ACS surveys about 3.5 million households each year, rather than a complete count of the entire country.

Given the attractiveness of Idaho and Montana, population increases are not surprising. Idaho and Montana’s regulatory burden remains low, and its tax structure is fairly competitive.

Income tax rates, however, remain a concern and possible impediment to growth. Montana’s top individual tax rate is 6.75%. Idaho’s has been lowered to 5.8% but is still relatively high.

Arizona, for example, just lowered its income tax to 2.5%. Utah’s income tax rate is 4.5%.

While the population increases are interesting, perhaps the most surprising number is the amount of people working from home. That number tripled from 5.7% in 2019, to 27.6 million last year, or 17.9% - not surprising given the COVID pandemic.

The ability to work anywhere has been attractive to workers, many of whom have relocated to states that might be different from their employer.

The highest percentage of home-based workers is Washington state – with 24.2%. The national number of home-based workers is the highest since the data began to be reported in 2005.

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