NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 4, 2010

This recession has seen several states move from below-average to above-average population growth, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates for each state for the 12 months ending on July 1.  They include Oklahoma, with its energy-based economy; Tennessee, one of the few states without an income tax; and South Dakota, with its thriving credit card economy.

The state with the fastest population growth in 2008-09 was demographically tiny Wyoming, the nation's largest coal producer, which has had a higher rate of domestic in-migration than any other state.  Just behind at No. 2 was Utah.  With the nation's largest birth rates and largest families, Utah demographically resembles the America of the 1950s, says Michael Barone, a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.

No. 3 in percentage population growth in 2008-09 was giant Texas, the nation's second most populous state:

  • Its population grew by almost half a million and accounted for 18 percent of the nation's total population growth.
  • Texas had above-average immigrant growth, but domestic in-migration was nearly twice as high.

There may be lessons for public policy here, says Barone:

  • Texas over the decades has had low taxes (and no state income tax), low public spending and regulations that encourage job growth.
  • It didn't have much of a housing bubble or a housing price bust.
  • Under Govs. George W. Bush and Rick Perry, it has placed tight limits on tort lawsuits, and has seen an influx of both corporate headquarters and medical doctors.

Bush's late job ratings may have been low and Perry may be a wine that doesn't travel, but their approach to governing may not be lost even in Washington, says Barone:

  • Polidata Inc. projects from the 2009 estimates that the reapportionment following the 2010 Census will produce four new House seats for Texas, one for Florida, Arizona, Utah and Nevada, and none for California for the first time since 1850.
  • Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois are projected to lose one each, and Ohio two.

Americans have been moving, even in recession, away from Democratic strongholds and toward Republican turf, says Barone.

Source: Michael Barone, "Texas Shows Its Swagger in New Population Estimates," Jewish World Review, December 28, 2009.

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