NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Second Sun Belt Broadens Population Shift

December 29, 2000

The 2000 census shows the "old" Sun Belt, anchored by Florida and California, is giving way to a new one. Population growth in those two states slowed markedly from 1990 to 2000, while states such as Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee had fast-paced growth.

  • California grew 26 percent from 1980 to 1990, but only 14 percent since then.
  • Florida's population jumped 33 percent between 1980 and 1990, but only 24 percent in the following decade.
  • By comparison, North Carolina's growth increased from 13 percent in the 1980s to 21 percent in the 1990s.
  • Georgia went from a 19 percent increase to a 26 percent increase; Tennessee from six percent to 17 percent.

However, some analysts predict that as states in the Northeast and Midwest -- which lost people after the decline of old-line industries -- adapt to the high-tech and service economies, there will be less dramatic population shifts.

A major impact of the census will be on representation in the U.S. House. Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia each gain two seats, while New York and Pennsylvania each lose two.

Gaining one seat each are California, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina. Eight states lose a seat: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Sun Belt is Hot, But Census Finds a Big Shift," and Tom Squitieri, "South, West Gains in House Continue," both USA Today, December 29, 2000.


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