Census: North Dakota, South and West adding population fastest

December 30, 2013
North Dakota's population grew by 3.1 percent last year, the highest of any state, according to new Census Bureau estimates.
North Dakota’s population grew by 3.1 percent last year, the highest of any state, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

States in the South and West are adding population faster than the rest of the country, according to new estimates released Monday by the Census Bureau.

The annual estimates of state population on July 1 shows the South added more than 1.1 million residents between 2012 and 2013, while Western states added almost 728,000 residents over the past year. Northeastern states added 171,000 residents, while the Midwest added another 226,000 people.

Many of those new Midwestern residents landed in North Dakota, which added 22,000 residents over the past year. That was a 3.1 percent population increase, the highest of any state in the country, fueled by an energy boom in the Bakken oil fields that has pushed the state’s unemployment rate down to 2.6 percent.

Texas added more residents, 387,000, than any other state, the estimates show. California, which added 332,000 residents over the past year, is the first state to top 38 million in population.

Population growth by state

 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

All told, populations in 15 states and the District of Columbia each grew by at least 1 percent in the past year. D.C. added 13,000 residents, slightly more than 2 percent of its population of 646,000, the estimates show.

Two states — Maine and West Virginia — suffered a net loss of residents over the past year. Several other Northeastern states, including Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, grew by only one-tenth of 1 percent. Puerto Rico lost 36,000 residents, 1 percent of its population of 3.6 million.

Population growth by percentage

 (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

And despite news reports last week that suggested New York could lose its position as the nation’s third-largest state to Florida, the Census Bureau said the Empire State kept its narrow lead. New York had 19,651,127 residents as of this July, the estimates show, fewer than 100,000 ahead of Florida’s 19,552,860 residents. Florida grew by 1.2 percent, adding 232,000 residents over the last year, while New York added just 75,000 people — an increase of 0.4 percent. Those trends suggest Florida will surpass New York in the 2014 estimates.

The new estimates shuffle rankings for four states: Utah, which added about 46,000 residents, is now the 33rd largest state, trading places with Kansas, which added just 8,500 people. And Nebraska, which added 13,000 residents, is now the 38th largest state, trading places with West Virginia.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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