January 9, 2021

Texas Population Growth Far Outstrips Other States

Texas Population Growth Far Outstrips Other States

The US Census Bureau has released its preliminary numbers for population growth by state over the last decade.  The degree to which Texas growth has outpaced every other state is jaw-dropping.

Since the 2010 census, Texas has grown by 4.2 million residents, blowing away second-place Florida and its growth of 2.9 million.  In percentage terms, Texas (at 16.8%) was second only to Utah at 17.6%.1

Overall, the US gained about 21 million new residents, a 6.7% increase.  Most of the growth took place in the first half of the decade, with the annual population increase at 0.7%.  But that slowed to 0.4% by 2020, the slowest population growth in a century.  Texas’s growth peaked in 2015 with more than 500,000 new Texans (+1.9%), but then slowed to slightly below 400,000 in 2020 (+1.3%).

California grew slightly below the national average at 5.7%, but the trend is quite ominous for that state.   It began the decade growing faster than the rest of country but ended actually losing population in the last two years.  There were five states (New York, Vermont, Connecticut, West Virginia and Illinois) that have lost population since 2010.  Illinois was the big loser with its population down by over 240,000 or -1.9%.  Its population has declined every year since 2013.  New York’s population loss greatly accelerated in the last three years.  Last year alone, it lost 126,000 residents (-.065%).

The population loss has occurred in areas already under tremendous fiscal stress.  If these trends continue, we could experience see a rash of local government bankruptcies those areas.

Beyond the economic consequences of these population shifts, they will also affect how seats in the US House of Representatives are reapportioned for the coming decade.  Based on the current estimates Texas will gain three new seats and Florida two.  Five other states (North Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Montana) will gain one seat while seven states (California, Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) will lose one.   It appears to be a close call whether New York will lose two seats or will only lose one along with Alabama.  The complicated rules and math behind this question are discussed in this The Hill article.

All of the demographic trends are pointing to a stagnation of population growth in the US over the next several decades.  The Census Bureau’s projection is that the US will continue at an annual growth rate 0.6% for the next decade then slow to about 0.4%.  Considering the growth rate this year already dropped to 0.4% that seems a bit optimistic to me, unless we significantly loosen our immigration policy – something the country does not seem much in the mood for.

There are advantages and disadvantages to slow, or perhaps, no population growth.  But it will require many adjustments to the way we do things.  And it is likely going to set off an even fiercer competition between the states for company relocations and new facilities – a lesson Texas has learned but California and New York have not.


Note 1 – The District of Columbia actually had the highest percentage growth at 18.5%.  Don’t even get me started about the nation’s capital having the highest growth rate in the country.

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