Special Report

The Fastest Growing and Shrinking States

Detailed Findings

Population change is simply the number of people who moved into a state minus the number who left, as well as the number of people who were born in a state less the number of people who died.

In each of the fastest shrinking states, people moving out drove the population decline. This was even the case in West Virginia, the only state to report more deaths than births in the last year.

Meanwhile, Texas and Utah are the only states to rank among the fastest growing where births minus deaths — referred to as natural growth — accounted for most of the population growth. Still, migration was also a significant factor, as tens of thousands more people moved to those states than left in the last year.

A growing population typically increases demand for housing, which, in turn, raises property values. In each of the eight fastest growing states on this list, the typical home appreciated in value faster than the typical American home. Among the fastest growing states, median home values climbed anywhere from 6.6% to 11.0%, while the typical American home appreciated by 6.1% over that time.

None of the eight states with shrinking populations reported an annual increase in median home value greater than the national average increase.

Perhaps most importantly, population change appears closely tied to overall economic conditions. Wyoming and West Virginia are the only states with declining populations to report faster annual GDP growth than the U.S. growth of 2.3%. Meanwhile, five of the eight fastest growing states reported faster than national GDP growth.


To determine the fastest growing and shrinking states, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the one-year population change of all 50 states from July 2016 to July 2017 with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Data on births, deaths, domestic migration, and international migration also came from the Census. Data on GDP and industry growth came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and are for the third quarter of each year. Unemployment figures came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are annual averages for 2017. Poverty rates and median home values came from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau and are for 2017.

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