BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- New government population estimates show Idaho's growth in 2012 was again concentrated in the cities, with the biggest percentage of growth coming in the southwestern cities of Star, Meridian and Eagle.
U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Thursday pegged the state's population at 1,595,728, up 0.8 percent from 2011 and on pace with the slower growth rates posted during the recent economic recession.
The combined population of the state's 200 cities increased 1 percent from 2011, though 88 cities lost residents. But the continued growth in the cities again comes at the expense of rural communities.
Idaho's rural population grew by 0.3 percent, the Census Bureau said, slightly less than the 0.4 percent growth between 2010 and 2011. Overall, Idaho's rural population is estimated at 494,000.
Meanwhile, the total population in cities last year was projected at 1.1 million, accounting for 69 percent of the state's total and up from 59 percent who lived in cities in 1990.
The biggest rate of growth occurred in three Treasure Valley cities. Star, west of Boise, grew by 3.4 percent with the addition of another 202 residents. Meridian checked in with 3.3 percent growth, followed by Eagle at 2.9 percent. The bureau projected population growth in Boise at 2.2 percent.
On the other end of the spectrum, the eastern Idaho city of Dubois posted the biggest decline, at 8.8 percent with the estimated loss of 58 residents. Rexburg, Blackfoot and Mountain Home were the only cities with more than 10,000 residents to lose population.
Other cities with an estimated population decline of at least 2.5 percent include Arco, Idaho City, Horseshoe Bend, Butte City, Crouch and Fairfield.