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VANCOUVER, WA-Throughout the 1990s, Clark County was the fastest growing county in Washington State in percentage terms, growing by a total of 45%. Jackson County, at 31.3%, was a distant second. No more.

In 2000, new estimates from the state Office of Financial Management show Clark County with a growth rate of 2.1% this past year, placing it third behind San Juan and Whatcom counties, both of which grew by 2.2%.

Alas, the office is using different methods this year for estimating the numbers than it has in the past, and one year does not a trend make. Almost any county can have a one-year spike.

In terms of actual population growth, Clark County grew from 345,238 residents to 352,600 between April 2000 and April 2001, making it the state’s fourth-fastest growing county by that measure, behind King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The state uses the census as a base, as well as models that look at housing starts, school enrollment figures, births and deaths and other measures to update the figures annually. The estimates are used to distribute state monies.

Statewide, it is estimated that Washington’s population grew from 5,894,121 last spring to 5,974,900 this spring. Extrapolating that figure, the state’s population is expected to reach the 6-million mark by the end of the month.

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