|By: Shannon Patterson
The population changes every year in the United States. Generally we see a positive change with the overall populations meaning more births and deaths, however, a few states had more deaths than births according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the Bureau’s factors that contribute to the 2016-2017 estimates for populations for the 50 states results are international and domestic migration and the “natural population change,” which is the net births minus deaths.
The results showed that two states, Maine and West Virginia, actually saw more deaths than births. Maine’s natural population went down by 0.9 residents per 1,000, while West Virginia’s dropped by 1.7 residents per 1,000. However, Utah had an excess of births over deaths contributing to why it’s ranked the third fastest growing state with natural increase.
Idaho was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2 percent to 1.7 million from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017. The next largest percentage increases in state population were; Nevada (2.0 percent), Utah (1.9 percent), Washington (1.7 percent), and Florida along with Arizona (1.6 percent).
The two fastest growing states Idaho and Nevada experienced “domestic migration,” which is defined by the number of residents who move into a state from another, minus the people who moved out of that state. The census showed that the Northeastern and Midwestern states tended to lose population due to domestic migration as more residents moved out of the state than into the state. By region, the Western and Southern states mostly saw gains from other parts of the country. States that saw dramatic increases due to domestic migration were Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Montana.
Overall, the southern and western regions led America’s population growth. In 2017, 38 percent of the nation’s population was in the Southern states and 23.8 percent in the Western states.
A number of common factors affect migration patterns throughout the country. Residents move from state to state for economic and educational opportunities as well as quality of life factors and the cost of living. Many of the fastest growing states have midsize cities with quality school systems, low unemployment rates, and offer affordable housing.
To determine the fastest growing and shrinking states, the WSJ reviewed the one-year population change of all 50 states from 2015 to 2016 with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Below is a list of the fastest growing and shrinking states in the U.S.
The population of Idaho increased by 1.8% in 2016. Idaho has a relatively high birth rate, and natural growth accounting for about one-third of all new Idahoans in 2016. The remaining population growth was due to the large influx of residents from other parts of the country. A net total of 17,143 Americans relocated to Idaho in 2016, far more than in most states.
The population of Utah grew by 2.0% in 2016, nearly three times the 0.7% national population growth rate and the fastest pace of any state. Unlike most fast-growing states, the majority of Utah’s population increase was due to natural growth. Utah has the largest average family size in the country. While Utah’s high birth-to-death ratio accounted for most of the state’s population growth, Utah’s population also grew more from inbound migration than many other states.
The population of Nevada increased by 2.0% in 2016, The state has sustained strong population growth over the past decade, growing by 16.5% from 2006 to 2016, nearly twice the 8.3% national growth rate.
Like many of the fastest-growing states, Florida’s rapid population growth was largely due to migration. About 9 in every 10 new Floridians either moved from another state or from another country.
Washington state’s population grew by 1.8% in 2016, more than twice the 0.7% national population growth rate. The state’s strong population growth over the past decade was accompanied by a large increase in their GDP. The states information sector such as industry giants including Microsoft, Amazon, and Expedia ignited the growth.
Since 2006, Oregon’s population has grown at an average rate of 1.1%. Approximately 3 in every 4 new Oregonians in 2016 moved to the state from another state (domestic migration), with the remaining population increase due to natural growth. Many new residents likely came to Oregon for economic opportunity.
Colorado’s population grew by 1.7% in 2016, among the fastest pace of any state. Like many of the fastest growing states, domestic migration contributed the most to the states rapid population growth. A net influx of 50,216 Americans relocated to Colorado in 2016.
Arizona’s population grew by 1.7% in 2016, more than twice the 0.7% national population growth rate. Most of the state’s growth was again due to new residents migrating from another state. A net total of 61,544 Americans relocated to Arizona that year in 2016.
Fastest Shrinking States
West Virginia was one of two states to see both negative natural growth and net migration loss in 2016. West Virginia, which has one of the oldest populations of any state, has the highest death rate and one of the lowest birth rates in the country. Approximately 2,700 more West Virginians died than were born in 2016, accounting for one-fourth of the state’s total population loss. Most of the population loss was due to people leaving the state. Major factors causing people to migrate out of West Virginia were the high unemployment rates and poverty. In total, West Virginia’s population decreased by about 10,000 residents in 2016, the most of any state relative to population size.
While the population of Illinois has increased nearly every year in the past five decades, the state’s population declined in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The state’s population shrank by 0.3% in 2016, the second fastest pace of decline of any state. A large share of the population loss was due to residents leaving the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area. In a survey conducted by the Chicago Tribune, residents who had moved out of the city in recent years cited high taxes, unemployment, poor weather, and violent crime as primary reasons for leaving Chicago. The population decreased by over 37,508 residents with the majority of them being from the city of Chicago (19,570).
The population of Vermont declined by 0.2% in 2016, the third largest contraction of any state. Most of the population decline was largely due to outbound migration. Approximately 2,000 more residents moved out of Vermont in 2016 than moved in, nearly the largest loss of any state when adjusted for population size. Vermont’s population growth was also impacted by the state’s low birth rate.
The state’s population shrank by 0.2% in 2016, the fourth largest decline in the nation. Connecticut’s population has declined substantially in recent years, with approximately 20,000 residents exciting since 2013. Unfortunately, many of the residents leaving the state are young, college-educated professionals. The population loss will likely hurt the state’s economic potential.
Wyoming was the only state to grow more from natural growth than the United States as a whole in 2016 and still have population loss overall. Approximately 2,800 more new Wyomingites were born than died in 2016, however, heavy outbound migration led to negative population growth in Wyoming overall. Overall 3,823 more residents moved out of Wyoming in 2016 than moved in, more than in any other state relative to population size.
While the U.S. population grew by 0.7% in 2016, the population of Pennsylvania shrank by 0.1%. The change was largely due to residents who moved out of the state; approximately 45,600 more residents exited the state than moved in making it one the largest domestic outflow states in the nation. Pennsylvania’s population loss was also partially due to the state’s low birth-to-death ratio. Overall, Pennsylvania grew less from natural growth than any state other than New Hampshire, Maine, and West Virginia.
The population of Mississippi declined by approximately 660 residents in 2016. The population loss was largely due to outbound migration to other states. Roughly 7,500 more Mississippi residents moved out of the state than moved in during 2016. While Mississippi had positive natural growth in 2016, the state’s death rate was relatively high, and the natural population growth was lower than the national average. Many residents exited the state due to the state’s low quality of life, and depressed economy. Today, over 20% of state residents live in poverty, the largest share in the country.
New York is one of many Northeastern states whose populations are rapidly declining due to outbound migration. While the state gained a net total of 118,478 new residents from other countries, over 190,000 residents moved out of New York to another state in 2016 than moved in.