NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 23, 2005

As of July 2005, the nation's population equaled 296.4 million and the quest for more affordable housing and jobs is driving Americans from expensive coastal states to more moderately priced parts of the country, says the U.S. Census Bureau.

People continue to leave states such as New York and California and spill into parts of the Southwest, Southeast and Rocky Mountains; in the 12 months, ending July 1, Florida gained more people (404,434) than any other state for the first time in at least 15 years, and if this continues, Florida will overtake New York as the third-most populous state by 2010, says the Bureau.

According to researchers:

  • Nevada's population increased by 3.5 percent between July 1, 2004, and July 1, 2005, marking the 19th consecutive year that Nevada has been the fastest-growing state; Arizona was a close second with a growth rate just under 3.5 percent.
  • The South recorded both the largest numerical population increase (1.5 million) and the fastest rate of growth (1.4 percent) among regions between 2004 and 2005.
  • The South now accounts for 36 percent of the nation's total population, with the West comprising 23 percent, the Midwest 22 percent and the Northeast 18 percent.
  • California remained the most populous state in the nation with 36.1 million people in 2005. The second and third most populous states were Texas (22.9 million) and New York (19.3 million).
  • Virginia gained more people (86,133) than the nine Northeastern states combined (59,880) because of the strong job growth.

Overall, the nation's 10 most populous states accounted for 54 percent of the nation's population on July 1, 2005, says the Bureau.

Source: Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, "People fleeing pricey coastal states for South, West," USA Today, December 22, 2005; based upon: Robert Bernstein, "Nevada Edges Out Arizona as the Fastest-Growing State, " U.S. Census Bureau News, December 22, 2005.

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