Special Report

The Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) States

The Fastest Shrinking States

7. New Mexico
> 1-yr pop. growth rate:
> Current population: 2,085,109
> 2014 population: 2,085,567
> 10-yr pop. growth rate: 8.13%

New Mexico is one of only seven states where the population shrank in the past year. Of the four states bordering Mexico, New Mexico is the only one with a declining population. Net migration to the state from other countries, at 3,631, is one of the lower such figures nationwide. When including domestic migration, 9,721 more people left than arrived in New Mexico in the past year, the fifth largest decline due to migration compared with other states. The relatively poor economic conditions in New Mexico largely explain both the exodus and the state’s difficulty attracting new residents. More than 7% of workers in the state are out of a job, the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Also, as is the case for the nation as a whole, the state’s poverty rate worsened over the past decade, and reached 21.3% this year. Only Mississippi has a higher poverty rate.

6. Mississippi
> 1-yr pop. growth rate:
> Current population: 2,992,333
> 2014 population: 2,993,443
> 10-yr pop. growth rate: 2.44%

People often move to find better economic opportunities, and Mississippi’s economy is hurting. The typical household in the state earns only $39,680 annually, the lowest median income of any state in the country. Additionally, more than one-fifth of state residents live below the poverty line, the highest poverty rate of any state. Mississippi’s 10-year growth rate of 2.4% is among the slowest in the country. In the past year, the state’s population actually shrank by roughly 1,100 people. Though the state’s negative population growth is also a product of birth and death rates, roughly 9,460 more people moved out of Mississippi then moved in over the same one-year period.

5. Maine
> 1-yr pop. growth rate:
> Current population: 1,329,328
> 2014 population: 1,330,256
> 10-yr pop. growth rate: 0.59%

Over the last decade, Maine’s population grew at one of the slowest rates of any state, averaging just two new residents each day. Last year, Maine was one of seven states whose populations shrank, declining by an estimated 928 people. Unlike most states with shrinking populations, the majority of Maine’s contraction was due to natural causes as opposed to emigration. With one death for every 100 residents, Maine had one of the highest death rates in the country in addition to one of the lowest birth rates. Along with West Virginia, Maine is one of two states where more people died than were born over the last year.

Like most states with slow-growing — even shrinking — populations, Maine’s economy has not fared particularly well. While the U.S. GDP grew by 37.9% over the last decade, Maine’s grew by just 20.3% — the third smallest expansion nationwide.

4. Connecticut
> 1-yr pop. growth rate:
> Current population: 3,590,886
> 2014 population: 3,594,762
> 10-yr pop. growth rate: 2.30%

Connecticut is one of three New England states with a shrinking population. While the state’s population has increased by 2.3% in the past decade, it contracted over the past year. Roughly 8,850 more people moved out of the state than into it, contributing to a total population reduction of 0.11%. Connecticut’s birth rate of roughly 10 births per 1,000 people in the past year was also among the lowest in the country. Unlike most states with declining populations, Connecticut residents are relatively affluent. The typical household in the state brings in roughly $70,000 annually, the fourth highest median household income of any state in the country and considerably higher than the $51,000 average among the seven states with contracting populations.

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