Mid-afternoon traffic on northbound I-5 on a Monday. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Mid-afternoon traffic on northbound I-5 on a Monday. (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Pace slows, but county population keeps growing

There’s been an increase of 13,580 people in the past year, more in unincorporated areas than in cities.

EVERETT — Feeling more crowded where you live in Snohomish County?

You should.

In the past year, population grew in the unincorporated areas and in every city — except Gold Bar — according to a tally by the state.

As of April 1, Snohomish County had 818,700 residents, an increase of 13,580 from 2018.

That works out to a growth rate of 1.7%, down from last year’s 2.0% and the 2.1% recorded in 2017.

The main reason for the county’s growth is net migration, or more people moving here than are moving away. It accounted for 9,389 people, or 69%. Natural increase — births over deaths — made up the other 31%.

Snohomish County grew slightly faster than Washington as a whole. The state Office of Financial Management pegged Washington’s overall population at 7,546,410 this spring, an increase of 118,800 people, or 1.6%, over last year. Net migration accounted for 76% of the state’s population growth with natural increase making up the remainder.

County Executive Dave Somers said the amount of population growth in Snohomish County was not surprising.

“It’s both exciting and alarming,” he said.

On the plus side, he said the county has a lot to offer. The economy is good, jobs are available, housing is comparatively affordable and there are many options for recreation.

“At the same time it’s scary,” he said of the inevitable growth. Worsening traffic and a lack of housing stock are among many issues that he and the County Council need to confront.

“It brings challenges,” he said. “I’d be happy to slow it down a bit but there’s no way to do that. We just have to focus on planning for it.”

In the past year, more of the population growth occurred outside cities rather than inside them.

Unincorporated Snohomish County added 7,925 people, up slightly from the previous year’s 7,755. Collectively, cities added 5,655 residents, but that is far fewer than the 7,965 tallied last year.

“As a result, the unique observation last year of the cities accounting for more population growth than the unincorporated county reversed itself this year, going back to the more traditional pattern of more growth in the county than the cities,” said Stephen Toy, Snohomish County’s principal demographer.

Among cities in Snohomish County, Lynnwood showed the greatest population gain of 1,340, he pointed out. That ranked as the 13th largest increase of cities statewide, he said.

Marysville is next with an increase of 780 followed by Everett with an added 600 and Lake Stevens which rose 510.


Everett’s latest increase is notable, Toy said, because it is down considerably compared with the past three years.

In that period, Everett topped all cities recording increases of 2,500 in 2015- 2016, 1,500 the following year and 1,400 last year.

Regarding Gold Bar, the state report showed a population drop of 25. State and county officials explained that because the figures are estimates and not actual counts, the decline may be tied to what kind of data was put into the system for calibration.

Toy said the point to make is that Gold Bar has experienced very little population growth this decade. A spreadsheet developed by the Office of Financial Management shows the city gained a total of 75 people in that period.

The state pulls in data from numerous sources to arrive at its estimates: school enrollments, drivers licenses and enrollment in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It also collects housing data from local governments including permits issued and units completed.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Snohomish County population

2010 2019 Change
Snohomish County 713,335 818,700 14.77%
Incorporated 411,043 453,220 10.26%
Unincorporated 302,292 365,480 20.90%
Everett 103,019 111,800 8.52%
Marysville 60,020 67,820 13.00%
Edmonds 39,709 42,170 6.20%
Lynnwood 35,836 39,600 10.50%
Lake Stevens 28,069 33,080 17.85%
Mountlake Terrace 19,909 21,590 8.44%
Mukilteo 20,254 21,350 5.41%
Mill Creek 18,244 20,590 12.86%
Arlington 17,926 19,740 10.12%
Monroe 17,304 19,250 11.25%
Bothell (SnoCo part) 16,415 18,180 10.75%
Snohomish 9,098 10,200 12.11%
Stanwood 6,231 7,020 12.66%
Brier 6,087 6,665 9.50%
Sultan 4,651 5,180 11.37%
Granite Falls 3,364 3,900 15.93%
Gold Bar 2,075 2,150 3.61%
Darrington 1,347 1,410 4.68%
Woodway 1,307 1,350 3.29%
Index 178 175 -1.69%

Source: Washington Office of Financial Management

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