Florida is about to overtake New York as the third-most populous U.S. state, underscoring a decades-long shift in population and political clout from Northeastern to Southern and Western states.
New York’s population on July 1 was 19,651,127, compared with 19,552,860 for Florida, a difference of 98,267 people, according to estimates released today by the Census Bureau.
Florida’s populace is growing more rapidly than New York’s.
New York had 255,376 more residents than Florida in July 2012, and 576,792 more people than Florida as of the 2010 Census.
If the two states increase their populations at the same rate, Florida will overtake New York sometime in February, according to the Census Bureau’s annual release of state population estimates.
The recession, driven by a real-estate crash that battered Florida’s housing market, kept that state from overtaking New York sooner, said William Frey, a demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
“Florida is inching up, and I think next year it will probably overtake New York,” Frey said. “A lot of us thought Florida would overtake New York in the 2010 Census, and it was that recession that kept it from doing so.”
Florida “is starting to come out of it, but it’s taken its time, so I think it surprises a lot of people that New York is still ahead,” he said.
For decades, the U.S. population has grown more rapidly in the Sun Belt region covering vast swaths of the South and West than in the Northeast and Midwest.
Texas added more people (387,397) than any other state in the year ended July 1 and is the second-most populous state (26,448,193) behind California (38,332,521).
The Sun Belt includes “places that are newer, have more opportunities for job growth and are less costly to live,” Frey said.
These trends have political implications, as each decade’s Census is followed by a reapportionment of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives that gives more to fast-growing states and fewer to slower-growing or shrinking ones.
Florida and New York each have 27 seats in the House. In the 1930s, New York had 45 and Florida had five.
The House districts will be reapportioned among the states again following the 2020 Census.
Rounding out the 10 most populous states in July were Illinois (12,882,135), Pennsylvania (12,773,801), Ohio (11,570,808), Georgia (9,992,167), Michigan (9,895,622) and North Carolina (9,848,060).
North Carolina, which added about 100,000 people in the year ended July 1, is set to supplant Michigan, which added about 13,000 people during the period, as ninth-most populous. Michigan had the third-highest unemployment rate last month, at 8.8 percent.
Utah’s population, at more than 2.9 million, eclipsed Kansas as the 33rd most populous state, according to the Census estimates. Nebraska, with about 1.9 million residents, slipped ahead of West Virginia for 37th.
West Virginia and Maine were the only two states that lost population in the year ended July 1.
North Dakota, experiencing an oil and gas production boom, increased its population by 3.1 percent during the 12-month period, the biggest percentage-rate increase among the 50 states. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation last month, at 2.6 percent.
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