According to the study, Latah County has the highest median family income among the counties in the quad-county region, which includes Latah, Nez Perce, Whitman and Asotin counties. Latah County now has the fourth-highest median family income among counties in Idaho. Latah County ranked eighth in 1989 and 15th in 1969.
Part of the reason behind Moscow’s prosperity is it’s becoming a place for people to live and commute from, Peterson said.
In 2000, 2,300 people lived in Latah County and worked in Whitman County. Only 978 people commuted the other way.
“People don’t live in Moscow to sweep floors,” Miller said. “They work at Washington State University or run the Neill Public Library.”
Moscow is also known as the shopping hub of the Palouse.
“Retail sales are double in Moscow from Pullman,” Miller said. “Whitman County peaked in 1974.”
Miller said the area’s businesses have an impact on expansion.
“There is a theory that in order for a region to grow, you have to sell goods to people outside the region,” Miller said.
Moscow benefitted from selling retail trade to Whitman County, but “we seem to be doing our best to keep that element of growth out,” he said.
Peterson said the Hawkins Development across the state line could have both positive and negative effects for Moscow.
“Whitman County would get the property and sales tax revenue,” he said. “But it could also have a cluster effect; shoppers might continue into Moscow to do their shopping.”