NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 22, 2004

Robust population growth continues to sweep the nation's Southern and Western states, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.

The U.S. population on July 1 was 293.7 million, up 1 percent from July 1, 2003. If that growth rate holds, the nation will have 311.7 million people in 2010. That would put growth for the decade at about 10 percent, compared with 13.2 percent in the 1990s, the highest rate since the 1960s.

The Census data show:

  • Florida, the third-fastest growing state, gained an average 1,090 people a day, bringing its population to 17.4 million.
  • North Carolina and New Mexico replaced California and Hawaii among the 10 fastest-growing states.
  • Nevada was the fastest growing state for the 18th consecutive year.
  • Massachusetts lost population for the first time in more than a decade.

California remained by far the most populous state at 35.9 million. Foreign immigration fueled much of its growth in the past year. But California continues to lose more residents to other states than it gains from the rest of the United States.

Colorado, long one of the top destinations for people leaving California, lost more people to other states than it gained for the second year in a row. But immigration and births pushed its population up 1.2 percent, to 4.6 million.

Big population gains in other Western states such as Idaho, New Mexico and Utah may indicate that some of Colorado's appeal is fading, say observers. The state had attracted many retirees and young professionals seeking refuge from congestion and high living costs. But major growth in the past decade has clogged highways and pushed housing prices higher.

Source: Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, "Fastest growth found in 'red' states," USA Today, December 22, 2004.

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