NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 31, 2008

The housing collapse and economic crisis are dramatically transforming the population and political landscape of the nation by ending the Sun Belt boom that dominated growth for a generation, according to new Census Bureau estimates:

  • For the first time since the early 1970s, more people left Florida for other states than moved in during 12 months ending July 1.
  • Nevada, among the four fastest-growing states for 23 years in a row, slipped from No. 1 to No. 9
  • Michigan lost people for the third straight year.

If reapportionment were conducted today:

  • Eight states would lose a seat (Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania)
  • Five states would gain a seat (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Utah)
  • Texas would add three.

The housing meltdown has turned migration flows on their heads.  Of the top 20 fastest-growing states, all but four showed slower growth than last year, and only one of the top 100 grew faster than last year.

The turnabout in the fortunes of Florida and Nevada are striking.  The first half of this decade, Florida was No. 1 in attracting people from other states; now it has more people going the other way.  Florida still grew overall because of births and immigration, but "this is the smallest population increase we've ever seen," says Stan Smith, director of the bureau of economic and business research at the University of Florida.

Utah was the fastest-growing state, most of the increase from a high birth rate and immigration.  Michigan and Rhode Island, which have the USA's worst unemployment, were the only states to lose population from 2007 to 2008.

Source:  Haya Al Nasser and Paul Overberg, "America's New Landscape," USA Today, December 23, 2008.

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