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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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Population Growth Slows in US Generally; But Not in Utah

The U.S. Census Bureau reported this week on the growth of the population between 1 July 2015 and 1 July 2016. The fastest rates of growth by state were in Utah, Nevada, and Idaho. Utah has had the highest birth rate in the U.S. for many years, fueled by its large (and obviously growing) Mormon population. Idaho also has an increasing Mormon population. We're not sure about Nevada because, as you know, what happens there stays there...

In overall numbers, Texas had the highest numerical increase--an increase of more than 400,000 people in 2016 compared to the previous year. California remains the most populous state in the union, but were it not for continued immigration, the population would probably stop growing due to internal migration out of California to other states--like Texas where property taxes and business taxes and regulations are lower.

Regionally, population growth was highest in the West and the South, as noted by the NYTimes coverage of the Census Bureau's report:
“The movement to the South and West is a very long-term trend,” said Mr. [Jeff] Passel of Pew [Research], adding that those regions attract older residents of the Northeast and Midwest looking for more temperate places to retire.
The Midwest expanded by nearly 0.2 percent, while the population in the Northeast remained virtually unchanged. Both regions lost more residents than they gained from migration, though that was offset by more births than deaths.
The South is now home to 38 percent of the national population, while 24 percent of Americans live in the West. The Midwest is home to 21 percent of the population and the Northeast is home to 17 percent.
The NYTimes also notes that the rate of population growth in the country as a whole is at its lowest level in many decades. Nonetheless, we still added more than 2 million to the total last year, since we are building on a base that represents the third most populous country in the world. And, since we have the largest economy in the world, those new folks add disproportionately to the environmental consequence of ever-rising resource utilization. I was reminded of this by another story this morning about the newest alarm bells going off because of the rise in temperature in the Arctic.

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