New York was the biggest loser of American citizens from 2012 to 2013, according to Census Bureau data released on Thursday. The state had 104,470 more people moving to other states than moving in, more than offsetting its net gain of 101,778 from international migration. Texas gained the most, picking up 113,528 more residents than the number who moved elsewhere.
Population changes influence political power, most directly through congressional reapportionment and the number of votes cast for president. (See “Florida Reaches Peak Political Power” for charts on the waxing and waning of the 10 biggest states.) The data can also come in handy when praising or disparaging state policies, on the theory that people vote with their feet. It is a conservative talking point, for example, that states with no income tax have higher population growth (something of a chicken-or-egg situation, since high-population-growth states like Florida can reap more revenue from sales taxes and levies on real-estate transactions).
It’s also tempting to overlook the distorting effects of state boundaries. For example, Massachusetts was the only state north of Delaware and east of Minnesota to match the national average in population growth last year. But was this because of state politics and policy or because it was almost uniquely shaped to take advantage of a population boom in major cities like Boston? (Unlike Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania, it does not have a big, still-declining Rust Belt area; and unlike Connecticut and New Jersey, it isn’t dominated by mid-sized industrial cities.)
Still, we’re likely to hear more about local laws as a cause of population and economic growth, as state legislatures widen the differences between red and blue states. (See “Lawmaking Goes Locovore in 2014.”)
Here are some of the findings from the new Census data:
•As mentioned above, New York suffered the most from in domestic migration, though its net loss of 104,470 was not as bad as last year’s 114,871. It was followed by Illinois (a net loss of 67,313), California (-49,259), New Jersey (-45,035), and Pennsylvania (-30,718). In California and New Jersey, international immigration more than made up for the loss of native-born Americans.
•Texas gained the most from domestic migration (113,528, down from 142,650 the previous year). It was followed by Florida (91,484), North Carolina (37,240), Colorado (36,284), and South Carolina (29,324). Colorado is the only one of the five that Barack Obama carried by substantial margins in both 2008 and 2012, underscoring its importance to a Democratic Party that wants to win some states where people are moving to.
•Maine and West Virginia were the only states to lose population last year, and they were the only states where deaths outnumbered births. Vermont was just 894 births away from achieving the same distinction.
•There were twice as many births as deaths in four states: Alaska, California, Texas, and Utah, where the ratio was biggest (50,840 births and 14,875 deaths).
•Twelve states gained more from international immigration than they lost from domestic migration: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New Jersey. The surprise on this list is Georgia, which lost 6,347 residents to other states last year after gaining 19,442 the previous year — perhaps because of lingering unemployment. One policy question for 2014 is whether states that depend on immigration for population growth will steer away from punitive measures toward undocumented residents.