Texas ranks No. 1 in population increase

BY TIM EATON | Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, 7:33 PM

The population of Texas grew more than any other state in 2013, the Census Bureau reported Monday.

From July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013, Texas saw a population increase of almost 400,000. California followed, with a jump of roughly 330,000. Florida was No. 3 with a boost of about 230,000.

With a growth rate of 1.5 percent, Texas trailed only North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Utah and Colorado. And Texas accounted for 17.5 percent of the nation’s overall population growth in 2013.

“It doesn’t come really as surprise to anybody,” Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter said. After all, he said, Texas weathered the recession better than other states, and Texas’ economic engine continued to attract workers from around the U.S. and from other counties. An oil and gas boom was responsible for much of that job growth, he said.

Potter said Texas will continue to grow, partly because of its relatively young population. Whereas some states have hefty graying populations, Texas is home to many people of childbearing age. And since a growing percentage of those young people are Hispanic, who tend to have high birth rates, Texas’ rate of growth should remain steady, Potter said.

But Texas saw its growth rate cool slightly. Over the previous decade, the state had seen annual population increases of 2 percent on average, Potter said.

A slightly slower growth rate might actually be a good thing, Potter said.

The state government, cities and other entities are struggling to keep pace with the rapidly growing population, by planning for and building necessary infrastructure, especially related to water and transportation.

California continues to lead the U.S. as the most populous state with 38,332,521 people. Texas is No. 2 with 26,448,193 people.

Florida appears to be threatening New York as the third most populous state. New York’s edge over Florida narrowed to fewer than 100,000 people over the past year, according to the Census Bureau figures. If New York’s tepid growth rate and Florida’s rapid rate continue over the next year, Florida will pull ahead.

Texas could benefit from the growth after the 2020 census, when the state likely will gain congressional seats. Several states in the Midwest and Northeast saw little growth. Maine and West Virginia lost population over the past year.

Nationally, the growth rate was sluggish. The U.S. population grew only 0.72 percent last year, to 316,128,839 in July from 313,873,685 a year earlier, according to the figures.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the data shows the lowest rate in more than seven decades.

“The census projections to 2060 have us going down to half a percent because we’re an older population, and aging populations don’t grow so much,” Frey said. “If we have very sharp declines in growth, that takes a bite out of the economy.”

Monday’s release didn’t include population estimates for cities or metropolitan areas.

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