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Forecast: Sunbelt population will continue its surge for years to come

Warm weather will continue to draw people to Florida over the next dozen years, demographers are predicting.
Warm weather will continue to draw people to Florida over the next dozen years, demographers are predicting. AP

People will continue to flock to Texas and Florida in the coming years, while Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three Rust Belt states that unexpectedly voted for Donald Trump in the just passed election, will barely grow.

The United States’ population growth, meanwhile, will far outpace the increase predicted in Europe.

Overall, the United States is expected to grow by almost 17 percent between 2010 by 2030, a rate that’s more than four times that predicted for the European Union in the same period.

Those are some of the predictions demographers are offering as a new year arrives and the United States prepares for political change.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told McClatchy that the forecast marks an end to an era of slow growth that characterized post-recession America. The slowdown, he said, “has now dissipated with greater migration to newly emerging jobs in the South and the West.”

Along with Texas and Florida, Frey said that Washington state, North Carolina and Arizona are also seeing significant population hikes.

States that have younger populations tend to grow more.

Qian Cai, Demographics Research Group director, University of Virginia

New figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the country’s population will stand at 324.31 million on Sunday, the first day of 2017. That’s a 2.25 million gain over a year ago.

That increase is part of a long-term rise that demographers say will see the United States reach 360.83 million people by 2030 – a gain of 16.87 percent from its 2010 level of 308.75 million, the last time the Census Bureau did a nationwide count.

The 28-nation European Union, by contrast, is projected to grow by just 4.09 percent over the same period, according to Eurostat, its official demographics agency.

The figure includes the population of Great Britain, whose residents voted in June to leave the EU, but where the Parliament still must pass legislation for that to happen.

The Demographics Research Group at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released projections in May for coming population changes in the United States and its 50 states.

That data shows Florida with 25 million residents by 2030, which would be an increase of 33 percent over its 2010 population of 18.8 million.

Texas will experience an even bigger population surge, reaching 35.18 million by 2030, almost 40 percent above its 2010 level.

West Virginia is the only state where the population is expected to decline in the two-decade period between 2010 and 2030.

Qian Cai, the director of the Demographics Research Group, said that in addition to more people moving to Florida, Texas and other expanding states, the states benefit from lower death rates and higher birth rates, thanks to the influx of young people.

“States that have younger populations tend to grow more,” she said.

California, the nation’s most populous state, is projected to grow by 20.64 percent between 2010 and 2030, staying ahead of the national rate.

Texas and Florida will widen their leads over New York as the No. 2 and No. 3 states, demographers predict.

New York’s population is expected to increase by 8.36 percent between 2010 and 2030, scarcely half the national rise.

As recently as 2010, New York had more people than Florida. Between 2015 and 2016, its population decreased slightly, the first annual dip in a decade.

105 million The projected population of California, Texas and Florida combined in 2030, 29 percent of the anticipated national total

In the Mountain West, another region enjoying growth, the population of Idaho is projected to increase by almost 25 percent.

The overall world population is growing at a much faster rate than that of the United States. The United Nations projects it to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, a 23.19 percent increase from its 2010 total of 6.9 billion.

The Census Bureau pegs the international birth rate at 258 per minute, almost 35 times greater than the American rate of 7.5 births a minute.

In terms of population growth, that large difference is partially mitigated by the United States’ continuing lead over much of the world in death rates thanks to better health, less poverty and other factors.

A total of 108 people die each minute worldwide, nearly 20 times the American death rate of 5.4 per minute.

Population growth rate predictions, 2010 to 2030

New York – 8.36 percent

Texas – 39.89 percent

Florida – 33 percent

Idaho – 23 percent

North Carolina – 21.7 percent

California – 20.64 percent

Missouri – 6 percent

Ohio – 2.4 percent

Pennsylvania – 2.9 percent

Michigan – 1.4 percent

United States – 16.87 percent

Source: U.S. Census Bureau; University of Virginia

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