Grand Junction is a city located in Mesa County Colorado. It is also the county seat of Mesa County. With a 2020 population of 66,958, it is the 18th largest city in Colorado and the 616th largest city in the United States. Grand Junction is currently growing at a rate of 1.05% annually and its population has increased by 2.13% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 65,560 in 2020. Spanning over 40 miles, Grand Junction has a population density of 1,694 people per square mile.
The average household income in Grand Junction is $70,501 with a poverty rate of 13.54%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Grand Junction is 37.1 years, 35.3 years for males, and 39.1 years for females.
Grand Junction's location along the Colorado River has given it the nickname of River City. Though it wasn’t incorporated until the late 19th century, Grand Junction has seen major growth in its city limits and its population.
Grand Junction, Colorado Population and Economy Statistics
The Mesa County Valley School District 51 is the top employer in the city, providing jobs to over 2,500 people. City Market, St. Mary’s Hospital, the State of Colorado and Mesa County are other top employers in Grand Junction.
Grand Junction Population Growth
Despite some economic hardships, Grand Junction has continued to post population growth at every 10-year census. Though growth had slowed at the time of the 1990 census, it quickly rebounded in 2000, with the population grew from less than 30,000 to almost 42,000 people. The 2010 poll shows that the population increased to over 58,000, reflecting nearly 40% growth since the previous census. Current estimates indicate that the population has risen by 5.7% since the last official count and as the city’s economy continues to grow stronger and more diverse, it’s only natural that the city is expected to see continued growth.
The region that is now Grand Junction was originally inhabited by the Ute tribe. In 1881, the tribe was removed from the land by the government so that Europeans could settle it. A plot of land was purchased by George Addison, a man from Pennsylvania. In 1882m Grand Junction was established and was incorporated as a town.
From the time of settlement, the economy revolved around farming, cattle and fruit orchards. The first vineyard was planted during its early history following European settlement. This resulted in more vineyards and later led to the nickname “Colorado Wine Country.”
Even to this day, the fruit orchards remain a staple to Grand Junction’s economy. Fruits grown in the city include pears, peaches, plums, and wine grapes.
Grand Junction hasn’t just relied on agriculture, hower. It has also been a hotspot for uranium mining and was once the site of the Climax Uranium Mill that provided ore to the Atomic Energy Commission. Oil shale development has also fueled the economy, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s. Exxon purchased the rights to oil shale reserves, and the city thrived until it left the region and put a strain on the economy in 1982. This period was known as “Black Sunday.”
However, Grand Junction’s economy quickly recovered and became even more diverse. Gas and oil mining and agriculture are among its top industries; however, education and healthcare also contribute significantly to the economy. The city also makes money from tourism, as people from all over the world come to visit nearby Powderhorn Resort and other attractions and ski resorts.