U.S. population is growing, but very slowly

  • Article by: Tamar Lewin
  • New York Times
  • December 30, 2013 - 10:06 PM


The U.S. population grew only 0.72 percent last year, more slowly than at any time since the Great Depression, according to figures released Monday by the Census Bureau.

U.S. population rose to 316,128,839 in July from 313,873,685 a year earlier.

The last time the nation grew at a slower pace was from 1932 to 1937, said demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution.

“The Census projections to 2060 have us going down to half a percent because we’re an older population, and aging populations don’t grow so much,” Frey said.

“If we have very sharp declines in growth, that takes a bite out of the economy,” he said.

For the time being, New York remains the nation’s third most populous state, after California and Texas — but its lead over Florida narrowed to fewer than 100,000 people over the past year, according to the figures.

If New York’s tepid growth rate and Florida’s rapid one continue over the next year, Florida will pull ahead.

The West and South continued to drive population growth nationally, accounting for more than four in five new residents. Growth in the Northeast and Midwest continued to lag.

However, North Dakota’s population boom, driven by the state’s thriving oil and gas industry, continued in 2013, expanding at nearly twice the rate of the next-fastest-growing state.

The new estimate showed Minnesota’s population is still climbing. By the bureau’s estimate, there were 5,420,380 people living in the state as of July 1. That’s up almost 41,000 from last year’s projection.

The 2010 count put the Minnesota population at 5,303,925 people.

By this year’s estimate, Minnesota is the 21st most populous state.

Wisconsin was No. 20 with more than 5.7 million people.

Population estimates are eagerly watched by state officials because they determine the flow of money into many federal programs and representation in Congress. The number of representatives each state has in the House gets readjusted each decade.

If states continue to grow at the same pace for the rest of the decade, Texas could gain three more congressional seats in 2020, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of the Census Bureau figures.

Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado would stand to gain one seat each, while Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota, West Virginia and Rhode Island would lose one seat each.

The largest population increases over the year were in Texas (387,397 people), California (332,643) and Florida (232,111). There also was strong growth in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Washington.

Two small states, Maine and West Virginia, lost population over the year. And Puerto Rico lost about 1 percent of its residents.

The Census Bureau projected that on Jan. 1, the U.S. population would be 317,297,938, a 0.7 percent increase from Jan. 1, 2013.

In January 2014, the bureau said, one birth is expected every eight seconds in the United States, and a death every 12 seconds.

The projected world population on Jan. 1 is 7,137,577,750, up 77.63 million, or 1.1 percent, from Jan. 1, 2013.

In January 2014, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second. India added 15.6 million people over the one-year period. It led all countries, followed by China, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

The Los Angeles Times and Washington Post contributed to this report

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