This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

US Population Rate of Growth Slows

The US Census Bureau today released its latest population estimates for the nation and the states. There wasn't a lot of news in these results, but the New York Times made the best of it by noting that the rate of growth (0.7 percent per year) was low by historical standards.
It was the lowest rate in more than seven decades, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“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,” Mr. Frey said. “If we have very sharp declines in growth, that takes a bite out of the economy.”
But, this is not an alarming trend. Indeed, I downloaded the Excel spreadsheets and noticed that the actual numerical increase in population of 2.3 million is essentially unchanged over the past three years, even if the rate of increase is slightly lower. We are continually building on a bigger base, and it is the numerical increase that matters in terms of resource utilization.

You can also see the residual of the old idea that more people is better than fewer people in the lamentations in the New York Times over the fact that New York may soon be overtaken by Florida as the country's third most populous states. This doesn't really reflect badly on New York, per se, since all of the northeastern states are lagging in population growth. Rather, it reflects the fact, shown by the Census Bureau data, that people continue to prefer the west and the south to the other parts of the country.

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