The United States added an additional 14.4 million people between 2010 and 2016. That’s an astonishing figure if you think about it, greater than the population of Pennsylvania (12.8 million). Where did all those people go? Not surprisingly, most of that growth came in the South and West, regions that have been steadily growing for decades. Meanwhile, many Northeast and so-called “Rust Belt” states continue to grow at a very slow rate, and several states in those regions even lost population in recent years. Here’s a look at the five-fastest growing states since 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
2010 Estimated Population: 18.8 million
2016 Estimated Population: 20.6 million
Percent Increase: 9.6
The warm weather still attracts snowbirds fleeing the frozen North. Almost one in five Florida residents (19.1 percent) is age 65 or older. And these residents are living longer, adding to the population figures. But the state’s economy has also been a factor in attracting younger residents. Florida added almost 1.3 million jobs between the end of 2010 and December 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2010 Estimated Population: 5 million
2016 Estimated Population: 5.5 million
Percent Increase: 10.2
Colorado as a retirement destination? Believe it. Douglas County, just south of Denver, saw a 53.7 percent increase in residents 65 and older between 2010 and 2014, tops in the nation. And two other Colorado counties, Routt and Elbert, were second and third on the list. The influx of newcomers has strained traffic and led to problems with affordable housing, but as officials in states that are bleeding population can attest, those problems are better than the alternative (a shrinking tax base, older and poorer population left behind, etc.)
2010 Estimated Population: 2.8 million
2016 Estimated Population: 3.1 million
Percent Increase: 10.4
Almost two-thirds of Utah’s population is Mormon and it’s no secret followers of that religion typically have larger families than other faiths. A 2014 Pew Research Center study found the average Mormon had 3.4 children, compared to 2.1 children for all other Americans. But Utah’s diversified economy, which embraces everything from a high-tech sector to transportation and medicine, is also powerful magnet for growth. The state has also earned a reputation as a year-round recreational playground, from skiing in the Wasatch Mountains to hiking and camping in the state’s many national parks.
2010 Estimated Population: 25.1 million
2016 Estimated Population: 27.9 million
Percent Increase: 10.8
Much of this growth is coming in the booming suburban counties around Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin. In fact, the Austin-Round Rock region has been the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. since 2010, growing 19.8 percent. This rapid growth is showing no signs of slowing; four of the five fastest-growing large cities in the U.S. between 2015-2016 were in those Texas metro areas. The Texas economy is a big incentive for those relocating; the state’s GDP grew 3.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the best figure in the U.S.
1. North Dakota
2010 Estimated Population: 672,591
2016 Estimated Population: 757,952
Percent Increase: 12.7
The economic boom driven by the oil and natural gas industries has slowed down, which has put the brakes on the surge of migrants to the state. After being the fastest growing state every year from 2012-2015, North Dakota grew only 0.1 percent from 2015-2016. That North Dakota still easily tops this list underscores how fast it has grown in recent years. North Dakota has added roughly 85,000 residents since 2010. Of course, statistically speaking it’s much easier for a small state to post large percentage population growth. In fact, 27 other states added more residents between 2010 and 2017, led by California at 1.99 million. But that was only enough to bump that state’s population 5.4 percent.