Bellingham is no longer the state’s 13th largest city. Here’s how its population changed

After it lost people two years ago, only one city within Washington state saw a larger population increase than Bellingham last year, according to new estimates released Wednesday by the Office of Financial Management.

Whatcom County, also, was among the fastest growing in the state. Bellingham grew by an estimated 4,050 people between April 1, 2021, and April 1, 2022, the state reported, surging 4.5% to 93,910 people. That comes a year after the state estimated the city’s population dropped by 1,622 people (1.8%) in its 2021 estimates. The only city to grow more than Bellingham last year? Seattle, which saw its estimate climb by 20,100 people, but that only represented a 2.7% growth.

A big part of the reason for Bellingham’s growth, according to an OFM news release Wednesday, June 29, announcing the release of the 2022 estimates, was the return of Western Washington University students to campus after COVID-19 forced them to return home in the spring of 2020. Bellingham still grew by 2.7% (2,428 people) in the two years since the 2020 estimates, which represents the sixth-highest growth rate during that period among the state’s cities with populations of at least 75,000 people.