By The Hermiston Herald

Recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau lists the Umatilla County area as the 200th fastest-growing "micropolitan" region in the nation during the past six years.

Within the past year, the Hermiston-Pendleton area was ranked 347th out 577 micropolitan areas. Micropolitan areas are places with 10,000 or more urban residents but less than 50,000 residents.

The report did not provide a breakdown for either of the two cities individually.

According to the Census Bureau's statistics, the Hermiston-Pendleton area's population as of July 1, 2006 was 84,681, up 200 from the previous year.

The area grew from 81,543 as of April 1, 2000 to 84,681 as of July 1, 2006 — a 3.8 percent growth rate.

In other parts of the state, Bend and Prineville are leading the population growth.

Among metropolitan areas — an area with an urban population of 50,000 or more — Bend ranked second in the nation for percentage growth between July 2005 and July 2006, with 5.6 percent.

It was surpassed only by St. George, Utah.

The Bend area also ranked fourth among metropolitan areas nationwide for new residents between April 2000 and July 2006, with a nearly one-third increase in population, according to census estimates.

Prineville shared the spotlight in census estimates, ranking 12th in the nation in growth between July 2005 and July 2006 among micropolitan areas.

The city grew 4.3 percent in the one-year period and a total of 19.6 percent — nearly one-fifth — between April 2000 and July 2006. The six-year growth rate placed the Prineville area 10th among micropolitan areas across the nation.

Union County, with a population of 24,345, was ranked 479th out of 577 micropolitan areas for population growth from July 2005 to July 2006. The county actually lost 73 residents in that one-year period, and 185 in the past six years.

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