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2017 State Population Trends

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Census Bureau’s State Data Center program. Some of our partners discuss what the latest state population estimates reveal about changes and trends in their regions.

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The decline in Alaska’s population from 2016 to 2017 – although very small – is still unusual for the state.

The state experienced a fraction of a 1 percent drop in population during that period, for a total of about 740,000 in 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

The one-year loss is attributed to both negative net migration (more people leaving the state than coming in) and a drop in natural increase (more births than deaths).

“Alaska has experienced a period of job losses since the end of 2015 that’s related to the worldwide drop in oil prices. That, coupled with employment growth in other states, likely affected net migration trends,” said Alaska state demographer Eddie Hunsinger. “Also, while the number of Alaska newborn declined slightly for 2017, deaths have steadily increased due to aging of the population.”

Alaska is the least densely populated state in the nation with fewer than two people per square mile. However, most Alaskans live in cities. The largest city is Anchorage, which has a population of about 300,000. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, adjacent to Anchorage, is the state’s fastest-growing area. Its population increased 15 percent since 2010.

To learn more about the Alaska State Data Center, visit http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/cen/

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It was a foregone conclusion among Arkansans that their state would reach the Big 3.0 in total population – three million people, that is, in the 2010 Census. Alas, it was not to be.

However, the most recent state population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau put Arkansas over the 3 million mark for the first time in history. Before determining which of the three components of change is behind this milestone, let’s look at Arkansas’ current population.

Arkansas is an aging state. The state’s 65 and older population has grown by 15.5 percent from 2010 through 2016. In contrast, the number of people aged 15 and younger dropped by 1.3 percent. Those aged 15- 64 rose only 0.5 percent.

Births are down while deaths are up. That means population change from natural increase alone is declining. However, net migration is up as more people move to Arkansas.

The number of people moving to the “Natural State”, from both other states and from abroad, has increased. In 2014, Arkansas saw more people leave than move in, resulting in a net domestic migration loss of 657. By 2015, the trend had reversed. The state had a net gain from migration of 2,681 and an even bigger gain of 3,580 the following year. In 2017, the gain was 8,217.

While employment and economic factors are a driver in Arkansas’ migration numbers, ‘soft’ factors – such as quality of life, cost of living, and affordable housing – could also be driving the trend, said Pam Willrodt, demographer for the Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI) in Little Rock, which houses the Census State Data Center.

Willrodt said it is important to remember that the big 3.0 million is only an estimate

“To make it real, like the Velveteen Rabbit or Pinocchio, we need to have a great Census count in 2020,” she said. “Then we will have a really big 3.0!”

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Michigan’s population increased for the sixth consecutive year and for the first time in 17 years, more people are moving to the state than leaving.

The 2017 population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that a net 10,000 more people came to Michigan in the last year.

“This is clearly very good news, but it is tempered by the fact that the flow that has allowed the net migration in the state to be positive is from international sources,” said Eric Guthrie, Michigan’s state demographer. “Domestic net migration is still negative in Michigan, while international net migration has been consistently positive this decade. The last time that Michigan recorded positive net migration was around the year 2000.”

While the overall increase of the population is still fairly small (just under 0.3 Percent), it is still the largest population gain this decade. The increase is nearly double that of any year in the population estimates series. The last time the population increased more than the current 2017 estimates was in 2001.

Overall, the population of Michigan has increased by 0.9 percent since 2010. This is a relatively small gain. Michigan is still not back to the peak population registered in the last decade, but this continued progress will likely see the state cross the 10 million mark again in the not too distant future, Guthrie said.

“Given the current trends, that will likely occur around the year 2020, or shortly thereafter,” he said.

These estimates are available through the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates page and through American FactFinder.

Data on a wide variety of Michigan topics are available here.

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New Mexico is known as the “Land of Enchantment” and those living in New Mexico have a sense of the distinctive socioeconomic characteristics that define it. In New Mexico, we recognize that culture and natural landscapes are very attractive assets. However, New Mexicans are also faced with income disparities, economic development difficulties, and slow community development.

The question is how do we quantify our uniqueness and capitalize on our strengths and improve on our weaknesses? Where can we look to find data that tells us where we are now and where we are lacking in order to spark creative ideas and plan for our future?

Enter the American Community Survey (ACS), which is conducted annually by the US Census Bureau. The survey is comprehensive, with a total of 48 unique questions covering topics of employment, wages, income, commute times, housing, marriage, disability, education, sex, age, and race. ACS data are released in 1-year estimates for areas with populations over 65,000. Small areas all the way down to Census Tracts are released as 5-year estimates to keep individual information confidential. The most recent for 2016 was released last December. The data allow us to analyze socioeconomic characteristics for small localities across New Mexico and help quantify our distinctive populations. The comparison discussion in this blog are for 2012-2016 to 2007-2011 estimates. More...

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Tennessee’s population continues to see slow and steady growth, growing 1.0 percent in 2017 and ranking 15th in the nation.

The growth documented in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates is due largely to domestic in-migration into metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs).

In 2017, Tennessee experienced 24.7 percent net domestic migration growth (more people coming to the state than leaving) and had the 12th-highest growth rate in the nation. The most recent city and county data estimates show that middle Tennessee is the fastest-growing region in the state.

Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Marshall, and Maury Counties were the five fastest-growing counties and are all located in middle Tennessee and are in or border the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin (Nashville) MSA. The counties located in the Nashville MSA account for 46.7 percent of the 2017 net domestic migration.

People are moving to Tennessee. Why? Job growth. The December household survey shows 4.1 percent year-over-year growth in Tennessee compared to 1.2 percent nationally. Growth in Tennessee’s nonfarm jobs was lower, but still 1.0 percent higher than the previous year.

Although births and deaths decreased in 2017 – resulting in a 1.6 percent growth in natural increase -- the trend is still pointing downward. Because the natural increase is due to a decrease in deaths, this is likely temporary. The population continues to age and births are still declining.

The 65 and over population grew faster than any age group in Tennessee and made up 15.7 percent of the population, according to the most recent 2016 estimates. The 25-to-44 age group made up 26.4 percent of the population and is steadily growing every year.

The key population trends since the end of the Great Recession:

Net domestic migration has more than doubled.

While births have increased over time, the recent downward trend is expected to continue. 

Population continues to age and deaths have increased. 

The fast-growing age group 65 and older makes up a larger portion of the population now than it did in 2010.

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Last year, the state of Washington had the largest annual percentage increase in population in a decade.

The April 1, 2017 population estimates from Washington State’s Office of Financial Management show the state’s population at 7,310,300, up by 126,000 people or 1.76 percent. The estimates are based on the latest decennial census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau but are independently developed by the state.

Migration is once again the primary driver behind Washington’s population growth.

The net migration gain of 90,800 persons accounted for 72 percent of the population growth. Natural increase (births minus deaths) was responsible for the other 28 percent, or 35,800 persons. This is the fourth consecutive year that migration has exceeded the prior decade’s annual average of 45,000.

Driver license data can be used to provide trend information about migration flows between Washington and other states. Approximately 41 percent of in-movers to Washington last year came from California, Oregon, Texas and Arizona. The 12-month moving sum of in-movers from these four states is 79,500. The remaining states accounted for 53 percent of in-migrants, with 6 percent arriving from other countries.

During the past year, 35,800 persons were added to the state’s population due to natural increase, up 600 from the prior year. The increase in births is not because of higher fertility, but because there are more women of childbearing age.

The number of deaths has been rising, along with the graying of the state’s population. Due to higher mortality, the expectation is for natural increase, as a share of state total population growth, to gradually decline over time. Last decade, population growth due to natural increase averaged 38,000 persons per year, or 46 percent of total population growth, while this decade, natural increase is averaging 36,400 persons per year, or 43 percent of total population growth.

Housing, another indicator of population change, continued to strengthen in 2017. Housing growth increased by 14.7 percent over the previous year. Washington added 39,500 housing units last year — 5,000 more than the previous year but still lower than the prior decade annual average of 43,500 housing units. Statewide, 52 percent of all new housing units were associated with multi-family structures.

Population growth continues to be concentrated in large metropolitan counties. About three-fourth of the growth occurred in the state’s five largest counties: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark, respectively. King County accounted for the largest share of state growth this year, at 38 percent, followed by Snohomish and Pierce at 13 and 12 percent, respectively. The state’s 18 nonmetropolitan counties accounted for 5 percent of population growth.

For Washington’s complete report on population trends, go to: https://www.ofm.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/dataresearch/pop/april1/ofm_april1_poptrends.pdfLast year, the state of Washington had the largest annual percentage increase in population in a decade.

The April 1, 2017 population estimates from Washington State’s Office of Financial Management show the state’s population at 7,310,300, up by 126,000 people or 1.76 percent. The estimates are based on the latest decennial census conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau but are independently developed by the state.

Migration is once again the primary driver behind Washington’s population growth.

The net migration gain of 90,800 persons accounted for 72 percent of the population growth. Natural increase (births minus deaths) was responsible for the other 28 percent, or 35,800 persons. This is the fourth consecutive year that migration has exceeded the prior decade’s annual average of 45,000.

Driver license data can be used to provide trend information about migration flows between Washington and other states. Approximately 41 percent of in-movers to Washington last year came from California, Oregon, Texas and Arizona. The 12-month moving sum of in-movers from these four states is 79,500. The remaining states accounted for 53 percent of in-migrants, with 6 percent arriving from other countries.

During the past year, 35,800 persons were added to the state’s population due to natural increase, up 600 from the prior year. The increase in births is not because of higher fertility, but because there are more women of childbearing age.

The number of deaths has been rising, along with the graying of the state’s population. Due to higher mortality, the expectation is for natural increase, as a share of state total population growth, to gradually decline over time. Last decade, population growth due to natural increase averaged 38,000 persons per year, or 46 percent of total population growth, while this decade, natural increase is averaging 36,400 persons per year, or 43 percent of total population growth.

Housing, another indicator of population change, continued to strengthen in 2017. Housing growth increased by 14.7 percent over the previous year. Washington added 39,500 housing units last year — 5,000 more than the previous year but still lower than the prior decade annual average of 43,500 housing units. Statewide, 52 percent of all new housing units were associated with multi-family structures.

Population growth continues to be concentrated in large metropolitan counties. About three-fourth of the growth occurred in the state’s five largest counties: King, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane and Clark, respectively. King County accounted for the largest share of state growth this year, at 38 percent, followed by Snohomish and Pierce at 13 and 12 percent, respectively. The state’s 18 nonmetropolitan counties accounted for 5 percent of population growth.

For Washington’s complete report on population trends, go to: https://www.ofm.wa.gov/sites/default/files/public/dataresearch/pop/april1/ofm_april1_poptrends.pdf

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Losses in construction and governments jobs have contributed to Wyoming’s largest annual population decline since 1989.

The Census Bureau’s July 1, 2017 population estimates showed that the state’s population dropped by 5,595 persons to 579,315 since July 1, 2016, a 1 percent decline.

There are two components of population change. Natural increase (7,513 births minus 4,847 deaths) was 2,666, but the estimated net migration (people moving in less those moving out) declined by about 8,300. That means that approximately 8,300 more persons left Wyoming than moved into the state between July 2016 and July 2017. That’s more than twice the net out-migration of 4,000 experienced the year before.

Nationally, the population was an estimated 325.7 million in 2017, an increase of 0.7 percent from the previous year, and many Western states outpaced that growth.

Idaho’s 2.2 percent growth rate led the nation, followed by Nevada (2.0 percent), Utah (1.9 percent), and Washington (1.7 percent).

Wyoming’s decline rate was the steepest in the nation, steeper than West Virginia (-0.7 percent), Illinois (-0.3 percent), Alaska (-0.2 percent), and Hawaii (-0.1 percent) during the same 12-month period.

“People tend to move to areas where the economy is vibrant,” said Dr. Wenlin Liu, Chief Economist with the Economic Analysis Division. “Change in employment always tends to drive and lead the change in migration in the state.”

Wyoming’s job decline started in early 2015. Although the mining industry (including oil & gas extraction) added more than 1,000 jobs, nearly all other sectors of the economy still experienced employment decreases, led by construction and government. As a result, the overall payroll employment shrunk by 3,600 or -1.3 percent, the worst performance in the country during the period.

Consequently, continued employment decline contributed to the increase in outmigration. In addition, the labor market nationwide, particularly in neighboring states such as Colorado (the lowest unemployment rate in June 2017 in the U.S.), Utah (the second-fastest job growth rate in June 2017), and Idaho (labor market ranked in the top 10), continued to show strong expansion, which attracted Wyoming workers and residents.

Despite that, the unemployment rate in Wyoming declined significantly since the summer of 2016, and the current level is similar to the U.S. average. Additionally, business layoffs are very low, and both average working hours and hourly earnings in the private industries are higher than last year.

“Wyoming’s current labor market environment should provide encouragement for people who are looking for jobs within the state,” Liu said.

The complete figures and methodology are available at U.S. Census Bureau’s website at: https://www.census.gov/

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