Snohomish County population rising fast since 2000, led by Marysville

Despite tough times of late, Snohomish County continues to grow.

Between 2000 and 2009, the county added 98,276 people. That’s a population boost that is only a few thousand shy of the current population of Everett.

Marysville added the most people of any community since 2000, absorbing 12,215. That’s a tad more than the increase in much larger Everett.

The latest count, taken in April, sets the county’s population at 704,300, according to figures released this week by the state Office of Financial Management. Nine years ago, Snohomish County had 606,024 people. The newest numbers mean Snohomish County is a bit larger than Pierce County was in 2000.

Like the state overall, Snohomish County’s growth rate has slowed down in recent years. Washington’s population is now about 6.69 million, according to state estimates.

The stagnant national economy appears to be a key factor in the tapered growth. Fewer people can afford to move from out of state, officials said.

“Many job seekers are finding it difficult to sell their homes or to relocate to accept employment at the price of paying two mortgages for an extended period,” said Theresa Lowe, the state’s chief demographer.

Snohomish County’s overall growth, along with housing starts, has eased in recent years, said Stephen Toy, principal demographer for the county.

It peaked in 2006 with about 16,000 more residents — the biggest spike this decade, he said.

“History of population growth in this county is very cyclical,” Toy said. “It does suggest we have these peaks and valleys.”

Marysville ranked ninth and Everett 10th statewide in number of new residents during the decade.

Marysville’s population is now 37,530. That’s 48 percent bigger than in 2000.

Everett’s population grew 13 percent from 91,488 to 103,500 during the same period.

Marysville hop scotched from Snohomish County’s fifth largest to third largest city during that span. Forty-seven percent of its growth was by annexing neighborhoods.

It is poised to surpass Edmonds, population 40,900, in December based on a proposed annexation north of town. The communities that surround Marysville are home to about 19,000 people. The annexation would push Marysville to more than 55,000.

Mayor Dennis Kendall said he is not surprised by the growth over the past decade. For many years, it was fueled by housing that was largely cheaper than communities to the south, he said.

“We have been growing and we are ready for more,” Kendall said. “We have been planning it for three years.”

Lynnwood is on track to become the county’s second-largest city, if voters approve.

The City Council is pursuing annexation plans that would usher 27,000 people inside Lynnwood city limits. Lynnwood’s population is now 35,740. If it annexes an area stretching north, south and east of the city’s current border, Lynnwood’s population would jump to nearly 63,000, leapfrogging Edmonds and Marysville.

Lynnwood officials must decide by Aug. 11 whether to send the annexation to the ballot box in November. Otherwise, a vote would be delayed until at least next year.

At 133 percent, Lake Stevens experienced the largest percentage growth since 2000. Buoyed by annexations that added 7,349 people, its population is listed at 14,800.

Only King and Pierce counties have added more people than Snohomish County since 2000, according to state records. Snohomish County’s population increased by 16 percent.

Among counties with at least 200,000 people, only Clark and Thurston had faster growth rates since 2000 than Snohomish County.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said the growth in his city is caused by several factors, including an affordable supply of rental units and homes to buy. Anecdotally, he also hears from people who have sold homes in Seattle “to get more housing for their dollar.”

Stephanson also believes many people are looking for shorter commutes to work and Everett’s base of roughly 85,000 jobs appeals to a large percentage of workers.

Long-term projections predict Everett’s population could reach 200,000 by 2040. That’s about the size of Tacoma or Spokane.

“I think a lot of the growth we are seeing is going to be people living in housing growing vertically versus raw land and new homes,” Stephanson said.

The growth in Snohomish County doesn’t necessarily translate into more students in classrooms.

Several school districts are bracing for smaller enrollments.

In the Stanwood School District, which includes Island and Snohomish county residents, enrollment peaked at 5,319 students during 2001-2002 school year. It has dropped since then and is projected to slip to 4,842 next fall in part because of a dip in births.

“I definitely think people look around and see all this building going on and think there must be more kids in schools,” said Gary Platt, the district’s executive director of business and operations.

Reporter Chris Fyall contributed to this report.

Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, e-mail stevick@heraldnet.com.

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