New U.S. Census Bureau data allows the 2020 population by state to be compared with 2010. Over the decade, based on each year’s population as of July 1, America’s total population rose 6.5% to 329,484,123. It was one of the slowest 10-year paces since the bureau began to collect data. Mississippi, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Illinois and West Virginia lost residents.
At the top of the list, Utah’s population rose by 17.1% to 3,249,879. That was just ahead of the pace for Texas and Idaho, which rose 16.3%. The population in Texas reached 29,360,759, which puts it second by total to California. In Idaho, the figure reached 1,826,913. Clearly, growth has nothing to do with raw population size.
Looking at similar figures in 2018, the Kem C. Gardner Public Policy Institute of the University of Utah made the point that there are specific reasons for Utah’s population increase:
Utah’s population growth is fueled by the highest per capita rate of natural increase among all states. Utah’s birth rate (per capita) is the highest in the nation. This is the combined result of the state’s youngest median age and high fertility rate. Utah’s young median age also contributes to the lowest per capita death rate among all states.
The Utah median age figure is 31 years. At the other end of the list based on median age, Maine’s is 44.9. Although the pattern is not perfect, many of the states that shrank over the 10-year period, or grew very little, have among the highest median age among their populations.
There could be another large rotation of population growth based on the pandemic. That will not be obvious until numbers are released for July 1, 2021. However, anecdotally, people have begun to move from larger cities to smaller ones. In some cases, this means people have moved from state to state.
Bloomberg did a study of relocations by city. Over the course of the pandemic, as measured from April to October, people have left New York, San Francisco and Hartford. This could further erode populations in New York and Connecticut, states that shrunk over the 2010 to 2020 period.
Cities that gained population recently included Austin, Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa and Jacksonville.
However, the pandemic may not be a permanent reason for population growth and shrinkage. Median age and fertility rates are more likely to be. Those things will not change in Utah, at least near term.