Sun Belt adds population while California, New York shrink

International migrants accounted for most of the increase.
The Dallas skyline rises behind the Cotton Bowl stands as Texas fans watch during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

The United States added more than 1.2 million residents over the course of the last year as population growth rebounded from pandemic-era lows, an increase attributed almost entirely to international migrants coming to the country.

Annual population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau show the nation’s population grew by 0.4% over the last year. The number of migrants from other nations topped 1 million, almost three times the number who immigrated to the country in 2021.

“There was a sizable uptick in population growth last year compared to the prior year’s historically low increase,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division.

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The data show the United States experienced positive natural population growth — the number of births minus the number of deaths. Nearly 250,000 more people were born than died last year.

But population growth was not even across states. Almost all of the 10 states that added the most residents were in the South: Texas added 470,000 new residents, and Florida added 416,000 people. North Carolina and Georgia both added more than 100,000 residents, while Arizona added 94,000.

South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Utah and Idaho all added tens of thousands of new residents. The populations of Florida, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, South Dakota and Montana all grew by more than 1.5%.

Rust Belt states continued a long trend of population declines. New York’s population fell by 180,000, and Illinois shed more than 100,000 people. Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio all lost population as well.

California has seen its population drop in recent years as well. Beset by an ongoing housing crisis and high costs, the nation’s largest state declined by 113,000 people last year. The number of people who moved out of California outpaced the number who moved in by a whopping 343,000 residents, the Census Bureau’s data show.

Nearly 300,000 New Yorkers moved out of the state over the last year, the data show. All told, 18 states lost population over the last year.

The new figures show Texas has joined California as the only two states with populations north of 30 million. Florida, which only recently passed New York to become the nation’s third most populous state, now has more than 2.5 million more residents than the Empire State.

International migration, which ground to a virtual standstill during the pandemic, has rebounded. Texas, Florida and California all attracted more than 100,000 new international migrants.

Florida gained a net of 318,000 new residents from other states in the last year, while Texas added a net of 230,000 residents from elsewhere within the country. North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia all gained more than 80,000 new residents moving from other states.