Special Report

The Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) States

Detailed Findings & Methodology

While natural growth accounted for 55% of the national population increase, domestic migration was the largest contributing factor to population growth in the fastest growing states. In seven of the eight states with the fastest population growth rates, at least half of all new residents relocated to the state from within the United States. In total, net migration accounted for 76% of all new residents among the eight fastest growing states in 2016.

International migration heavily contributed to population growth in a number of states. Fast-growing states that grew the most due to immigration from other countries include Florida, Washington, and Nevada.

Utah was the only the state that grew more than 1% in 2016 in which natural growth contributed more to population growth than net migration. Utah has both the highest birth rate and lowest death rate of any state. It also boasts the largest average family size in the country. Approximately 35,000 more Utahns were born in 2016 than died, the most of any state adjusted for population size.

New York and Florida are two states indicative of current domestic migration patterns. Many Americans are currently moving from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West. In addition to traditional factors such as employment and education opportunities, Americans are increasingly considering weather and cost of living in their relocation decisions. As members of the baby boom generation reach retirement age, many choose to leave the expensive housing and cold weather of New York for the low cost of living and tropical climate of Florida. More people move from New York to Florida than any other state, and in 2014, Florida surpassed New York as the third most populous state.

To determine the fastest growing (and shrinking) states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the one-year population change of all 50 states from 2015 to 2016 with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. All population estimates are as of July 1 of each year. Data on births, deaths, population change due to natural growth, domestic migration, and international migration also came from the Census. Data on GDP and industry composition came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and are for the second quarter of each year. Unemployment figures came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are annual averages for 2016. Data on educational attainment and poverty came from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau and are for 2016.

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