Friday, December 21, 2012

State Populations: Five Year Trend

The population of the United States grew 4.2 percent during the five years between 2007 (before the start of the Great Recession) and 2012--increasing from 301 million to 314 million. These were the ten fastest growing states during those five years and the percent increase in their population...

1. District of Columbia, 10.1%
2. Utah, 9.9%
3. Texas, 9.3%
4. Colorado, 8.0%
5. Wyoming, 7.8%
6. Alaska, 7.5%
7. North Dakota, 7.2%
8. North Carolina, 7.0%
9. Washington, 6.7%
10. South Carolina, 6.3%

How does state population growth between 2007 and 2012 compare with state growth in the previous five years, from 2002 to 2007?

  • Four states appear on the top-ten list in both time periods: Utah, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina. All four states grew more slowly in the 2007-2012 time period than in the previous five years.
  • The fastest growing "state" in the most recent five-year time period was one of the slowest growing in the previous five years. The District of Columbia was the fifth slowest growing state between 2002 and 2007, its population increasing by only 0.2 percent. 
  • Nevada grew the fastest in the earlier five-year time period, with a 20 percent increase in population. In comparison, Nevada's population grew by a smaller 6 percent between 2007 and 2012 and the state ranked 13th in growth. 
  • Two states lost population between 2007 and 2012: Rhode Island (-0.7%) and Michigan (-1.2%). Four states lost population in the previous five-year time period: New York, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Louisiana.

Bottom line: There was much less variation in state population growth between 2007 and 2012 than in the previous five years. The gap between the fastest growing and fastest declining states in the 2002-2007 time period was 22 percentage points (Nevada, up 20 percent; Louisiana, down 2 percent). The gap shrank to just 11 percentage points in the 2007-2012 time period (District of Columbia, up 10 percent; Michigan, down 1 percent). Less variation in state growth is evidence of an economy struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Americans are hunkered down.

Source: Census Bureau, Population Estimates

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