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February 14
New Estimates Show Shifting US Population

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Population changes can create opportunities or challenges for governments, including county governments.  The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the 2013 population estimates for states and regions, which are a good preview of the more detailed data at the county level forthcoming in March.  The 2013 state population data shows continued national population growth, but with important regional differences.

Population growth varied significantly across regions and states.  Overall, the U.S. population expanded by 0.7 percent between 2012 and 2013.  This overall growth rate was slightly slower than the previous year, and continued a trend of declining growth rates.  At the regional level, the South and West added residents at higher rates than the national average, similar with previous years.  Population in the Northeastern and Midwestern regions also expanded, but at much slower rates of growth than the other regions.

Some states stood out for their rapid population growth in 2013.  With an economic boom fueled by the expansion in the oil industry, North Dakota was the state with the fastest population growth in 2013, at over 3 percent.  Since 2011, North Dakota has topped the charts terms of population expansion rates.  Population growth accelerated in Idaho in 2013, moving the state among the top 15 with the fastest growth rates.  Ohio is also adding more people than in the previous years; there were almost 18,000 more Ohioans in 2013 than in 2012, more than five times the growth the previous year.

Other states have experienced slow population growth over the past year.  Based on Census population estimates, West Virginia lost population in 2013 after several years of modest, but positive growth.  In Maine, population remained virtually at the same levels as in 2012.  Population growth in N.M. was less than 0.1 percent, in contrast to above 1 percent annual growth experienced before 2009.

Overall, the just released 2013 population estimates show population growth continued in United States, but with a number of variations across states and regions.  In March of this year, the 2013 county population estimates will provide an opportunity to examine whether the same trends apply at the local level.  The NACo research team will deliver a more in-depth analysis of the county population data in March.​

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