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13 States That Grew the Fastest in the 2020 Census

Plus, three states saw their population shrink over the past decade

spinner image united states map comprised of photos of people faces
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There are now more than 331 million people living in the United States, according to the long-awaited first batch of data the Census Bureau released on its 2020 count of the population. That’s up by more than 22 million since 2010.

But, of course, not every part of the country grew at the same rate. “For the regions, the South grew the fastest over the last decade, with a 10.2 percent increase in population, followed by the West with 9.2 percent, the Northeast with 4.1 percent and the Midwest with 3.1 percent,” acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said during a news conference announcing the counts.

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A closer look at the state results show that 13 states — and the District of Columbia — were the big winners in population growth over the past 10 years, with increases of 10 percent or more. While the data that have been released to the public so far don’t detail exactly what’s behind each state’s boom, Census officials said that increases in migration from other states, international immigration and birth rates are factors that play a significant role. 

Utah had the fastest growing population, with an increase of 18.4 percent. Other booming states, based on growth percentage, include Idaho, Texas, North Dakota, Nevada and Colorado.

Biggest population changes in the 2020 Census

Over the last decade, 13 states and the District of Columbia saw their populations grow by 10 percent or more. Only three states saw their total number of residents decrease.

spinner image u s map showing that fourteen states have seen population increases over ten percent and three states illinois mississippi and west virginia have shown a population decrease
  2020 Population 2010 Population + People + %
Utah 3,271,616 2,763,885 507,731 18.4
Idaho 1,839,106 1,567,582 271,524 17.3
Texas 29,145,505 25,145,561 3,999,944 15.9
North Dakota 779,094 672,591 106,503 15.8
Nevada 3,104,614 2,700,551 404,063 15
Colorado 5,773,714 5,029,196 744,518 14.8
District of Columbia 689,545 601,723 87,822 14.6
Florida 21,538,187 18,801,310 2,736,877 14.6
Washington 7,705,281 6,724,540 980,741 14.6
Arizona 7,151,502 6,392,017 759,485 11.9
South Carolina 5,118,425 4,625,364 493,061 10.7
Georgia 10,711,908 9,687,653 1,024,255 10.6
Oregon 4,237,256 3,831,074 406,182 10.6
Delaware 989,948 897,934 92,014 10.2

Only three states saw their population shrink. West Virginia dipped by 3.2 percent (59,278 people), Mississippi by 0.2 percent (6,018 people) and Illinois by 0.1 percent (18,124 people).

The Census Bureau won’t release its more detailed data from the 2020 count — including information about age — until later this summer. But many of the states that grew swiftly over the past 10 years are also states in which older adults make up a large percentage of the population. For example, Florida, Delaware, South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona have some of the highest shares of people age 65 and older, according to the bureau’s estimates in 2018.

California led the nation in overall population in the 2020 count (39,538,223 people), followed by Texas (29,145,505 people), Florida (21,538,187 people), New York (20,201,249 people) and Pennsylvania (13,002,700 people). Wyoming was the least populous state, tallying 576,851 residents.

The U.S. Constitution requires the government to do a complete count of all residents in the nation and where they live once every decade. The resulting numbers are used to determine how many members each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. The data also determine how more than $675 billion in federal funds are spent each year, on everything from schools and roads to Medicare Part B benefits.

Kenneth Terrell covers employment, age discrimination, work and jobs, careers, and the federal government for AARP. He previously worked for the Education Writers Association and U.S. News & World Report, where he reported on government and politics, business, education, science and technology, and lifestyle news.

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