Some of the fastest growing states in the US are in the sunny south, according to the US Census Bureau.
Florida, Texas and California made up 27 percent of the population in 2015, yet were responsible for 48 percent of the population growth in the country from 2014 and 2015. Compared to the average population growth in the US since 2010, Texas experienced a 9.2 percent growth in population during that same time period, and Florida and California saw a growth rate of 7.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively.
If this trend continues, the population in these three states combined could reach 100 million by 2030.
This is the largest surge in migration to the south since the recession of 2007-2009 that temporarily stunted population growth in these states. In contrast, population growth in the ‘Snow Belt’ – the Northeast and Midwest — only grew by approximately 258,000 residents combined throughout 2015.
Strong Recovery Following the Recession of 2007-2009
Based on these numbers, it’s clear that the trend of southern migration has resumed following a temporary stall as a result of the recession from eight years ago. The labor and housing market has been picking up steam over the last few years, but migration shifts to the south have been lagging behind up until now.
The wave of population migration to the south proves an improvement in financial health and economic confidence in Americans who are increasingly willing to pick up and go. Many of these southbound moves between 2014 and 2015 were the result of a quest for job opportunities, better climate, and the need to be closer to relatives, according to a census report.
Texas, in particular, has been a major target for job seekers around the country, which is largely why the state realized a spike in population growth of 490,000 residents between 2014 and 2015. Georgia and Nevada were also strong magnets for those seeking employment, considering the states’ huge spikes in job growth.
Florida Now More Populated Than New York
Although migration to the Sun Belt has been strong, it still hasn’t reached its record levels from the mid-2000s, with the exception of Florida. Last year, the Sunshine State passed New York as the third most populated state in the country. From 2014 to 2015, the population in Florida grew by 1.8% to 20.3 million. During the same time period, New York’s population only increased by 0.2% to 19.8 million.
The housing market had been suffering throughout the recession and beyond, but improvements on the real estate and employment fronts could help explain the major population growth. Foreclosures in Florida have dropped significantly, and the unemployment rate of 5% is a drastic reduction from its peak of over 10% in 2009.
Foreign Immigration Playing a Role in Population Growth
While domestic migration has been largely contributing to the population growth in the sunny states of the US, outside immigration – particularly from Latin America- has also been a big player. In fact, this immigration has been an important driver in the relatively youthful populations in Texas and California.
Despite the fact that the overall population in the country is aging quickly as the baby boomer generation hits retirement age and beyond, states such as those in the south have been able to keep their age demographic youthful by appealing to immigrant workers. Combined, California, Florida, and Texas saw an increase of 412,000 immigrants – predominantly from Latin America – between 2014 and 2015. Of the three, California experienced the biggest increase.
In states where population growth expands rapidly, the economy also grows quickly. A strong economy is often a big reason why Americans move to a certain state, or the result of people moving there. Median household income and property values also tend to increase as a result.
The housing market in these states continues to post strong numbers, and the rapid growth in population is no doubt playing a key role.