Components of Population Change

Data Table


Population growth is driven by two factors: 

  • Net migration: people moving in minus people moving out
  • Natural increases: births minus deaths

From 1960 to 2021, most growth in Thurston County has been due to migration, and natural increase has remained relatively stable. Natural increase dropped steeply in 2022 and 2023, and future years will show if this is a new trend or outlier. Since 1960, there has only been one year where out-migration was greater than in-migration (1969).

Population increase due to natural increase is fairly steady, but there are large year-to-year differences in net migration. Net migration is strongly influenced by economic conditions. When unemployment is high, net migration tends to be low. People also move here for jobs in nearby counties. A good proportion of the military and civilian work force on Joint Base Lewis-McChord lives in Thurston County. The number of Thurston County residents commuting to jobs in Pierce and King counties continues to grow. As housing prices rise in King County, this trend will likely continue.

Natural Increase

The natural increase in population is the number of births minus the number of deaths in a calendar year.

Net Migration

Net migration is equal to the number of people moving to Thurston County minus the number of people moving out of Thurston County.


Washington State Office of Financial Management