Originally Posted by USAtoday
Fastest growth found in 'red' states
By Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, USA TODAY
Robust population growth continues to sweep the nation's Southern and Western states, according to estimates released Wednesday by the Census Bureau.
If the trend continues at its current pace, states in the Northeast and Midwest that have been population powerhouses since the 19th century will lose their dominance to Sun Belt states by 2010. (Related chart: Population and population trends by state)
New York, now the third most populous state, will likely be overtaken by Florida in five years. New Jersey, the 10th-largest state, could be passed by North Carolina in three.
"By 2010, none of the three most populous states will be in the North," says Robert Lang, director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech.
The USA's population on July 1 was 293.7 million, up 1% from July 1, 2003. If that growth rate holds, the nation will have 311.7 million people in 2010. That would put growth for the decade at about 10%, compared with 13.2% in the 1990s, the highest rate since the 1960s.
States grow three ways: more births than deaths, immigration and people moving from other states.
Many northern states gained immigrants from 2003 to 2004 but lost people to other states. Most of the fastest-growing states are gaining residents from other states and immigrants from abroad.
The population trends show that economic and political power is shifting to states attracting suburbanites from congested, densely populated areas, says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
The 10 fastest-growing states — from No. 1 Nevada to No. 10 New Mexico — are all in the West and South. President Bush won nine of them in November. The exception was Delaware, ranked eighth. Delaware is classified as a Southern state by the Census Bureau.
Seats in the House of Representatives are reallocated every 10 years to reflect population shifts. The next round will come after the 2010 Census.
Based on the latest population estimates, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa each would lose a House seat, according to Kim Brace, president of Election Data Services, a Washington D.C., consulting firm that specializes in the Census and redistricting. Arizona, Florida, Texas and Utah each would gain a seat, he says.
"It's the New America," Frey says. "It's taking population and political clout from the highly urbanized Old America."
But more people means change, and politicians should pay attention to the constant shifts of population in booming states, Frey says.
"The turbulent demographic change occurring in New America makes its political future much more up for grabs," Frey says. "Two groups which favor Democrats, Hispanics and Gen Xers, are a significant part of (its) recent growth."
The Census data show:
• Florida, the third-fastest growing state, gained an average 1,090 people a day, bringing its population to 17.4 million. The population estimate covers the period before four major hurricanes battered the state in August and September.
• North Carolina and New Mexico replaced California and Hawaii among the 10 fastest-growing states.
• Nevada was the fastest growing state for the 18th consecutive year.
• Massachusetts lost population for the first time in more than a decade.
• California remained by far the most populous state at 35.9 million. Foreign immigration fueled much of its growth in the past year. But California continues to lose more residents to other states than it gains from the rest of the USA.
• Colorado, long one of the top destinations for people leaving California, lost more people to other states than it gained for the second year in a row. But immigration and births pushed its population up 1.2%, to 4.6 million.
"We had a lot of high-tech jobs in telecommunications and computer software," says Richard Lin, a Colorado demographer who tracks population estimates. "We lost a lot of these jobs."
Big population gains in other Western states such as Idaho, New Mexico and Utah may indicate that some of Colorado's appeal is fading, Lang says. The state had attracted many retirees and young professionals seeking refuge from congestion and high living costs. But major growth in the past decade has clogged highways and pushed housing prices higher.
"When you have multiple alternatives to California, people can be finicky about where they migrate to," Lang says. "The minute Denver starts to look like a Rocky Mountain L.A., Boise is the next hot town."