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State Population Trends

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Some of our State Data Center partners discuss what the latest U.S. Census Bureau state population estimates reveal about population changes and trends in their regions.

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Most of Alabama’s metropolitan statistical areas saw an increase in their population and non-metro areas saw a decline, said Viktoria Riiman, socioeconomic analyst at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.

The state, population 4,863,300, gained a net 416,200 people from 2000 to 2016. Half of Alabama’s 12 metro areas saw positive net migration and net natural increase in the past year. The other half was split: three had both negative net migration and net natural decrease, and three had negative net migration but a net natural increase.

“Areas that enjoyed net migration increases are those with better recovered economies, higher increases in employment, the best or most improved quality of life,” Riiman said. “The Daphne-Fairhope-Foley metro area in particular attracts both families and retirees due to its Gulf Coast location.”

To learn more about the Alabama State Data Center visit their website: http://cber.cba.ua.edu/.

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The District of Columbia, population 681,170, experienced overall growth, mostly through in- migration. There has been an increase in millennials moving into the city resulting in a change in the demographic make-up of the city.

Age analysis shows a significant increase of youth population (0-17 years) from 2010 to 2015 after a steady decline from 2000 to 2010. The 18-34 (millennial) population saw a rapid increase after 2005, which continues into 2015, and they now comprise over one-third of the District of Columbia’s population. The black population has now dropped below 50 percent, while the white population has increased to about 36 percent.

“Between July 2014 and July 2015, there was a decline of white millennials in the 20-29 years range but an increase in black millennials in the same age range,” said Joy Phillips, associate director of the State Data Center in the DC Office of Planning.

Much of the growth happened around new housing developments. The recession did not hit the District of Columbia as hard as most of the rest of the country, therefore job opportunities were more stable. The District of Columbia also invested in transportation, housing, leisure and entertainment, among other areas.

“All of this attracts population,” Phillips said. “The out-migration of white millennials might have occurred because the economies of other parts of the country became healthier than a few years ago and some people are leaving for other jobs.”

To learn more about the District of Columbia State Data Center.  Please visit their website: https://planning.dc.gov/node/616182.

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Kentucky experienced very little change in population last year and over the last few years. Population grew only 2.2 percent since 2010, to 4.436,974 in 2016, and the trend continues.

“The Census Bureau’s estimates show that since the beginning of the decade, 65 counties, or more than half of Kentucky’s 120 counties, have lost population,” said Thomas Sawyer, research manager at the Kentucky State Data Center. “What little growth there has been was around themetropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati (northern Kentucky).”

The state experienced very little net migration this decade, gaining just a little more than 26,000 since 2010. At the same time, natural increase is on the decline. From 2010 to 2015, 50 counties in Kentucky experienced more deaths than births, resulting in natural decrease.

To learn more about the Kentucky State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://www.ksdc.louisville.edu.


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Louisiana’s population growth is fueled by natural increase. Population loss through out-migration has slowed during the decade. The state added a net of almost 150,000 people since 2010, and its population was at 4,681,666 in 2016.

A large share of the growth in the state population during this decade has occurred in parishes in south Louisiana along the I-10 and I-12 corridors. These include key core parishes of metropolitan areas, such as Orleans and Lafayette, as well as suburban parishes, such as Ascension and Livingston.

"The population for the remainder of the state is stable," said Troy Blanchard, associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Louisiana State University. "It is important to note that the dynamics of the oil and gas industry play an important role in population change in our state."

"There is population increase in metro areas, from Houston through the panhandle of Florida, due in part to job growth in the energy sector," Blanchard said. "Louisiana is part of that trend."

To learn more about the Louisiana State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://louisiana.gov/Explore/Demographics_and_Geography/.

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Michigan has enjoyed an increase in births and international migration. Domestic out-migration, however, continues as more people leave Michigan for Chicago to the West and the sunbelt states to the South. Michigan’s population was just under 10 million in 2016 and added a net 44,171 people since 2010.

“People are moving into the Detroit and Grand Rapids metro areas but the outflow to other states has been consistent for 10 years,” said Eric Guthrie, state demographer at the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

“Domestic out-migration is reflective of the state’s economic conditions,” Guthrie said. “The movement into the Detroit and Grand Rapids metro areas is driven by employment and immigrant communities.”

Guthrie is looking forward to the Census Bureau’s county-level estimates with age and sex details, scheduled for release in March, to answer questions from towns, cities, counties, schools and the like who need the information for presentations and grant requests.

To learn more about the Michigan State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://milmi.org/population.

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For the first time ever, New Mexico is losing people to other states. "Jobs are scarce and the economy is doing poorly," said Suzan Reagan, Data Bank senior program manager at the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

"Residents of the rural areas are leaving for the urban areas, and residents of the urban areas are leaving the state for better options."Reagan said that "there are long-term structural challenges that New Mexico has faced."

The state is fifth in land size but much smaller in population. It now ranks 35th with a population of 2,081,015, according to July 1, 2016, Census population estimates. "The average population density in the state is 17 people per square mile, which includes the statistics from Albuquerque, which skews that number," Reagan said.

To learn more about the New Mexico State Data Center.  Please visit their website: https://gonm.biz/site-selection/state-data-center-program/.

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The demographic profile of North Dakota has changed significantly since the oil boom.  Population increased, incomes went up, and the number of young minorities soared.

For example, the share of North Dakota’s population that is black has doubled in the past five years, said Kevin Iverson with the North Dakota Department of Commerce. The black population now makes up 2.4 percent of the population, up from 1.2 percent in 2010.

“Growth in the western part of the state has been explosive due to immigration from other parts of the Midwest, other parts of the country, and from other countries. Fracking has created many jobs and although oil prices have dropped and fracking protests have increased, the state ishopeful the industry will stabilize,” Iverson said.

Population on the eastern side of North Dakota, where farming and wheat and corn production dominate, remains stable.

To learn more about the North Dakota State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://www.commerce.nd.gov/census/.

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Oregon, a state that almost always has more people moving in than out, currently is in the top 10 states in numeric and percentage growth.

About two million of the state’s population of 4.1 million lived in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA in 2016. Another one million lived nearby in the Willamette Valley MSAs of Albany, Corvallis, Salem, and Eugene. However, the Bend MSA in Central Oregon is the fastest-growing part of the state.

"During economic expansions, Oregon tends to add more jobs than other states, and it loses more than other states during recessions," said Charles Rynerson, Oregon State Data Center Coordinator at Portland State University’s Population Research Center.

Portland is experiencing population growth because jobs are increasing, including software, construction, finance, and tourism. Central Oregon attracts residents for its lifestyle including outdoor recreation such as skiing and mountain biking.

To learn more about the Oregon State Data Center.  Please visit their website: https://www.pdx.edu/prc/.

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Growth in Tennessee’s population, now at 6,651,194, comes primarily from domestic inmigration. "Just from 2015 to 2016, Tennessee’s total net migration was up 25.7 percent but its domestic net migration grew 40.1 percent," said Melissa Stefanini, director of the state data center at the University of Tennessee. At the same time, international net migration dropped 5.6 percent. Births dropped slightly, and deaths grew by 1.0 percent.

Middle Tennessee is the fastest-growing region in the state. From 2014 to 2015, Rutherford, Williamson, Wilson, Maury and Montgomery counties grew the fastest – four of which are in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, metropolitan statistical area. Of the 10 fastest-growing counties, eight are also in the Nashville metropolitan statistical area and the other two border it.

To learn more about the Tennessee State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://tndata.utk.edu/.

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Texas continues to have strong population growth in the second decade of the 21st century. This growth is from a robust and balanced combination of natural increase and net migration that pushed the state’s population to almost 28 million.

For each year between 2010 and 2016, Texas has had the nation’s largest annual population growth. During this period, the state added about 211,000 people per year through natural increase.

As for migration, Texas is a primary destination for both domestic and international migrants.  Average annual net domestic migration between 2010 and 2016 was close to 140,000 while net international migration averaged around 82,000. The state’s major metropolitan statistical areas(the Austin-Round Rock, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, and San Antonio-New Braunfels) are leading areas of population growth in Texas. While these areas have high rates of natural increase, net migration is the dominant source of population growth in Texas’ metro areas.

“The most likely reasons people relocate to Texas are its resilient economy and relatively affordable housing,” said Lloyd Potter, Texas state demographer at the University of Texas San Antonio. “Oil and gas production continues to be a major component in the state’s economy, butother sectors such as information technology, manufacturing and biomedicine are important sources of job growth.”

Economic expansion in Texas began to slow when oil prices dropped in 2014. This slowdown coincided with 2015-2016 reductions in the sizes of both natural increase and net migration. This was especially evident in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area. Nonetheless, the 2015-2016 state population still grew by over 430,000.

Texas has a relatively young population and this contributes to a relatively high crude birth rate. Consequently, it is likely that the state will continue to experience strong growth from natural increase into the near future. Migration recently has slowed but remains strong in spite of a slowdown in employment growth. It is likely, then, that population growth from migration also will continue into the near future, though perhaps at a slower pace.

“The most recent estimates from the Census Bureau indicate a continuation of recent trends,” Potter said. “These trends will lead to increasing population concentration in the state’s major metropolitan areas.  ”The growth will come from both natural increase and net migration. Recent international migration data show that Texas immigrants are becoming more heterogeneous, arriving from a greater variety of nations than in the past. “We have observed a greater share of the state’s immigrants originating from Asian countries and a decreasing share from Latin American countries, especially Mexico,” Potter said. “With this, migration will not only increase the size of the state’s metro areas but also will lead to greater population diversity in these areas.”

To learn more about the Texas State Data Center.  Please visit their website: http://demographics.texas.gov/.


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