“As I went farther and farther north and it got colder I was aware of more and more advertising for Florida real estate and, with the approach of the long and bitter winter, I could see why Florida is a golden word. As I went along I found that more and more people lusted toward Florida and that thousands had moved there and more thousands wanted to and would.”
And still do. The trend John Steinbeck observed in his Travels With Charley half a century ago, when Florida’s population was barely 5 million, appears to be continuing, if significantly abated: Florida added 256,000 people to its population between April 2010 and July 2011–that is, since the last decennial census was completed–giving it the third-largest population increase in the country, behind Texas and California, but only numerically. (County breakdowns updating the decennial census won’t be available until 2012.)
Florida’s growth has slowed significantly in percentage, a reflection of the economy’s devastation of the state. The 1.36 percent growth rate ranks the state ninth, with the District of Columbia the unlikely leader (2.7 percent growth), followed by Texas, Utah, Alaska, Colorado, North Dakota, Washington and Arizona. This marks the first time that DC led states and equivalents in growth since the early 1940s. D.C. ranked 35th in percent growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. The district’s economy has been quite healthy despite the depression.
Still, Florida’s population, now at precisely 19,057,542, places it just 407,000 people behind New York State, which is to say that it’s a matter of two or three years, according to current trends, before Florida overtakes New York as the union’s third-most populous state. It’s still well behind the top two states.
Texas gained 529,000 people for a total of 25.7 million. California gained 438,000 for a total of 37.7 million.
The population growth in Florida was driven mostly by migrants into the state. In the 15 months since the decennial census, there was a natural increase of only 51,500 in the state’s population (calculated by subtracting deaths from births: there were 264,829 births against 213,354 deaths in the period). Net migration totaled 205,193. Of those migrants, 57.7 percent were Americans or American residents moving from other states into Florida, while 42.3 percent were foreigners moving in.
Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and North Carolina’s population growth in the last 15 months accounted for half the nation’s total growth.
“These are the first set of Census Bureau population estimates to be published since the official 2010 Census state population counts were released a year ago,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “Our nation is constantly changing and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much each state has grown or declined in total population since Census Day 2010.”
The United States as a whole saw its population increase by 2.8 million over the 15-month period, to 311.6 million. Its growth of 0.92 percent between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, was the lowest since the mid-1940s.
“The nation’s overall growth rate is now at its lowest point since before the baby boom,” Groves said.
Most of that increase was natural: there were almost 2 million more births than there were deaths (5 million total births as opposed to 3 million deaths), with immigration accounting for 900,000 additional residents.
The only three states to lose population between April 2010 and July 2011 were Rhode Island (1,300 or -0.12 percent), Michigan (7,400 or -0.08 percent) and Maine (200 or -0.01 percent).
Nevada, the nation’s fastest-growing state between 2000 and 2010, ranked only 27th in population growth between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, increasing by 0.8 percent.
During 2012, the Census Bureau will release 2011 estimates of the total population of counties and incorporated places, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.