The fastest-growing states from 2017 to 2018 were Nevada and Idaho, according to Census Bureau data released Wednesday — a reminder of the steady migration of the country’s population from east to west.
The data serve as a reminder of something else, too: the centrality of immigration to population growth in many states.
Most states have seen steady growth since 2010. There are some exceptions, as seen below, particularly northeastern states where population growth has stalled or reversed in the past eight years.
In many cases, we aren’t talking about big changes in the actual numbers. Take Massachusetts for example. Its population has grown steadily — but it’s still a fairly small state. The big additions since 2010 have come in states such as California, Florida and Texas, with a honorable mention for states such as Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington.
Comparing growth as a percentage of the population in 2010, that westward (and southward) trend mentioned earlier is more apparent. The Northeast’s growth has been relatively flat compared with that of the Southeast and West.
The Census Bureau data didn’t include numbers on how the population changed by race or ethnicity. (That data will be released in the future.) While there’s big migration to states with large nonwhite populations, some states with heavily white populations — like the aforementioned Idaho — have also seen significant growth.
The effect is subtle. The least white third of states grew an average of 6.2 percent. The middle third grew an average of 5.4 percent. The most white third of states grew 4.6 percent.
Overlaying some politics, it’s also not the case that this growth overwhelmingly benefits red states.
States Hillary Clinton won in 2016 grew an average of 5.1 percent. States Donald Trump won grew an average of 5.5 percent.
One part of that change in population is how many people were born or died over that time. In nearly every state, more people were born than died. The two exceptions were Maine and West Virginia — states that are among those hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
What’s interesting on that map, though, is that dark green line, indicating the net difference between births and deaths. Compare how rapidly Utah’s net-change line increases compared with, say, that of Pennsylvania.
And now compare those dark green lines to the lines below, showing the net international migration in each state since 2010. In every state, the line climbs upward rapidly.
These are all relative to each state, but the effect is the same: International migration has resulted in more people moving from overseas to every state than leave for other countries.
According to the Census Bureau data, three states saw a decline in population despite those new immigrants. In most states, the population would have grown since 2010 even without new immigrants. But in nine states, mostly in the Northeast, the population only grew on net because of that net international migration.
There’s one other bit of data released by the Bureau: domestic migration.
As mentioned, the pattern is fairly consistent: from the Northeast to the South and West.
Maine and New Hampshire stand out as exceptions. Here, again, we’re reminded of scale: The two states added about 15,000 people combined who moved from elsewhere in the country.
They added 35,000 people from other countries.