When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, it took the Victor Valley down with it, sending unemployment rates skyrocketing in communities largely built around construction.


San Bernardino County had a 12.9 unemployment rate in September, according to the latest figures from the state's Employment Development Department. But in the Victor Valley, the numbers ranged from 19.7 percent in Adelanto to a low of 14.1 percent in Apple Valley.


But despite a lack of local jobs, most residents have chosen to stay put, with data showing every Victor Valley city has continued to grow in population even through the recession.


"If you look at the 2000 census versus the 2010, we had a nice boom in population," Hesperia spokeswoman Kelly Malloy said.


Federal figures show the city had 62,582 residents in 2000. By 2010, that had grown to 90,173. The California Department of Finance estimates the city's population has now grown to 90,726.


"Hesperia is still known for affordable housing and I think part of it is that Hesperia is a very safe community," Malloy said. "Hesperia's a place where people want to raise a family ... so people want to stay here."


Hesperia's hardly alone in seeing the growth. In 2006, the last full year before the housing market collapsed, Adelanto had 24,796 residents, according to the California Department of Finance. In 2011, after five years of the worst local unemployment numbers, the city had grown to 31,671.


During that same period, Apple Valley grew from 67,276 to 69,668. In Victorville, the population surged from 94,831 to 117,219, repeatedly making the Census Bureau's list of fastest growing cities.


Only Barstow which had a 16.8 percent unemployment rate, better than Adelanto or Hesperia saw a population decline, going from 23,643 in 2006 to 22,839 this year.


Even families with children, who might be expected to move away to seek work, seem to be holding steady in the Victor Valley.


At the valley's largest school district, Hesperia Unified, the student body has only dropped half of one percent last year. As of Oct. 28, the HUSD student body was down 97 students from the year before: 21,376 students versus 21,473.


"Statistically, it's not significant," Superintendent Mark McKinney said. "Certainly, I'd love to be growing, but in this economy, I'm happy to be flat-lined."


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com.