It stands to reason that a place like North Dakota, with its surging oil industry and 3 percent unemployment, would rank among the quickest growing states in the country.
But Nevada, land of 12 percent joblessness and a busted housing market? Turns out it's right at the top of the list too.
This week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest round of state by state population estimates, tracking changes between July of 2011 and July of 2012. It's hard to find a single thread that connects all the fastest growing parts of the country, but there are a few distinct themes that emerge. One of the most interesting: It's not necessarily the unemployment rate that counts when it comes to attracting new residents.
This first chart lists the 10 quickest growing states, measured by year-over-year percentage increase in population (it includes Washington, DC because, Congressional representation or not, the District's got more residents than either Vermont or Wyoming). The states with the largest total population gains are less interesting; they're mostly just the biggest states outside the rust belt: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Virginia, Washington, Colorado, and New York. Colorado, by far the smallest of that bunch, punched a bit above its weight in terms of growth, while New York punched below.
But let's keep our attention on the 10 fastest growers. One thing most of them have in common: people are moving to them from elsewhere in the country. Nine are among the top 10 in domestic net migration -- or, the number of new residents per 1000 people already living there. The only exception is Utah, which has a unique dynamic we'll discuss in a bit.
Particularly in this economy, one might assume people would move wherever there were jobs to be had. And to some degree, that's what seems to be happening. North Dakota's oil rush helped attract about 10,000 additional residents to boost its tiny population. Washington, D.C. saw about 6,000 new people arrive from elsewhere in the country, many of whom were presumably young professionals coming for work. But of the top ten fastest-growing states, only four (or 5, if you only look at the market for professionals in DC) had unemployment rates below the national average in July 2012 (8.3%):
- North Dakota: 3.0 percent
- District of Columbia: 8.9 percent
- Wyoming: 5.6 percent
- South Carolina: 9.7 percent
- Texas: 7.1 percent
- Colorado: 8.3 percent
- Arizona: 8.3 percent
- Florida: 8.8 percent
- South Dakota: 4.5 percent
- Nevada: 12.0 percent