Interactive: How America’s Population Has Changed in 10 Years, by State
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Interactive: How the U.S. Population Has Changed in 10 Years, by State

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U.S. Population Change in the Last Decade, by State

The U.S. is the third most-populated country in the world, behind only two Asian giants of China and India respectively. But within the country, a lot can change in 10 years, and populations are especially mutable in nature.

As people moved in and out of certain areas for both lifestyle and economic reasons, which U.S. state populations fluctuated the most?

Drawing from the latest Census Bureau data, we look at how each state’s resident populations evolved over the past decade. But first, a blast from the past.

Historical Trends: U.S. Population Since the 1930s

Population growth trends in the U.S. have been closely tied to the economic ebbs and flows experienced by the nation. In one stark example, the country’s 10-year population growth rate plummeted to just 7.3% due to the Great Depression.

US Population Growth % Change by Decade

This was later offset by the post-WWII “Baby Boom”, during which birth rates soared once more, bumping up the population 10-year growth rate to 18.5% in the 1950s. The Baby Boomer generation now wields the most influence over the U.S. economy and society thanks to the favorable economic conditions in which they were born.

However, U.S. population growth rates recently hit new lows—the slower pace in the 2010s is rivalling that of the 1930s. According to Brookings, there area few factors at play:

  • Falling fertility rate
  • An increase in deaths (aging population, overdose deaths)
  • Lower immigration rate

With all this in mind, how does the current landscape of the U.S. population by state look?

The Entire U.S. Population by State in 2020

The U.S. experienced 7.4% population growth between 2010-2020, which equates to the addition of 22.7 million people.

An impressive one-tenth of this growth occurred in California, and it remains the most populous state, rising above 39.5 million people in 2020. The SoCal megaregion—Los Angeles and San Diego—alone contributes more than $1.4 trillion to global economic output.

Area2020 Census Resident PopulationNumeric Change (2010-2020)% Change (2010-2020)
Alabama5,024,279244,5435.1%
Alaska733,39123,1603.3%
Arizona7,151,502759,48511.9%
Arkansas3,011,52495,6063.3%
California39,538,2232,284,2676.1%
Colorado5,773,714744,51814.8%
Connecticut3,605,94431,8470.9%
Delaware989,94892,01410.2%
District of Columbia (Territory)689,54587,82214.6%
Florida21,538,1872,736,87714.6%
Georgia10,711,9081,024,25510.6%
Hawaii1,455,27194,9707.0%
Idaho1,839,106271,52417.3%
Illinois12,812,508-18,124-0.1%
Indiana6,785,528301,7264.7%
Iowa3,190,369144,0144.7%
Kansas2,937,88084,7623.0%
Kentucky4,505,836166,4693.8%
Louisiana4,657,757124,3852.7%
Maine1,362,35933,9982.6%
Maryland6,177,224403,6727.0%
Massachusetts7,029,917482,2887.4%
Michigan10,077,331193,6912.0%
Minnesota5,706,494402,5697.6%
Mississippi2,961,279-6,018-0.2%
Missouri6,154,913165,9862.8%
Montana1,084,22594,8109.6%
Nebraska1,961,504135,1637.4%
Nevada3,104,614404,06315.0%
New Hampshire1,377,52961,0594.6%
New Jersey9,288,994497,1005.7%
New Mexico2,117,52258,3432.8%
New York20,201,249823,1474.2%
North Carolina10,439,388903,9059.5%
North Dakota779,094106,50315.8%
Ohio11,799,448262,9442.3%
Oklahoma3,959,353208,0025.5%
Oregon4,237,256406,18210.6%
Pennsylvania13,002,700300,3212.4%
Puerto Rico (Territory)3,285,874-439,915-11.8%
Rhode Island1,097,37944,8124.3%
South Carolina5,118,425493,06110.7%
South Dakota886,66772,4878.9%
Tennessee6,910,840564,7358.9%
Texas29,145,5053,999,94415.9%
Utah3,271,616507,73118.4%
Vermont643,07717,3362.8%
Virginia8,631,393630,3697.9%
Washington7,705,281980,74114.6%
West Virginia1,793,716-59,278-3.2%
Wisconsin5,893,718206,7323.6%
Wyoming576,85113,2252.3%
U.S. Total331,449,28122,703,7437.4%

*Note: U.S. total and 10-year percentage change includes District of Columbia but excludes Puerto Rico

Overall, there’s been a significant shift in population towards the Sun Belt region (stretching from Southeast to Southwest), where 62% of the U.S. now resides. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest gainers and decliners over time.

Gainers: Utah, Texas

Utah saw the quickest population growth rate of 18.4% in the last decade. Drawn in by strong economic prospects, net migration into the state is balancing out a decline in births. What’s interesting is that 80% of Utah’s population is concentrated in the Wasatch Front – a metro area anchored by Salt Lake City and the chain of cities and towns running north and south of Utah’s largest city.

A little further south, Texas swelled by almost 4 million residents in the last 10 years. Much of this growth took place in the “Texas Triangle”, which contains Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. This booming region of the country contributes over $1.2 trillion to global economic output.

Decliners: West Virginia, Puerto Rico

West Virginia lost the most people in a decade, seeing a numeric population decline of 59,278. This may be explained by an aging population—16% of West Virginians are 65 years old and above.

When territories are also taken into account, Puerto Rico saw the biggest percentage decline of 11.8%, or close to 44,000 people over 10 years. Many of them moved into the mainland, and especially into Florida, after two hurricanes hit the island in 2017.

Full Speed Ahead: States Competing On Forward Momentum

By 2025, California will be home to five of the fastest-growing urban U.S. cities. The unstoppable growth of the tech industry in Silicon Valley is partly behind this, as many people flock to the West Coast to fill the shoes of highly skilled jobs required.

But could Silicon Valley one day lose its steam? Current and projected population growth in Texas is bolstering its tech potential too—in fact, it’s been dubbed the next “Silicon Hills”, with many tech companies from SpaceX to Oracle choosing to camp out in Austin instead.

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Politics

Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.

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Which Countries are the Most Polarized?

How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.

Even within the social sciences, polarization covers everything from racial segregation, to labor skill levels, to class divide, to political ideology.

How Do You Quantify Polarization?

Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:

  • How divided is their country?
  • How entrenched is the divide?

The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.

Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.

In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.

Economic AnxietiesWill my family be better off in five years?
Institutional ImbalanceGovernment is viewed as unethical and incompetent.
Class DividePeople with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.
Battle for TruthEcho chambers, and a low trust in media.

Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.

Severely Polarized Countries

Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.

43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.

Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.

Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:

    🇦🇷 Argentina
    🇨🇴 Colombia
    🇺🇸 United States
    🇿🇦 South Africa
    🇪🇸 Spain
    🇸🇪 Sweden

In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.

And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.

Moderately Polarized Countries

The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.

    🇧🇷 Brazil
    🇰🇷 South Korea
    🇲🇽 Mexico
    🇫🇷 France
    🇬🇧 United Kingdom
    🇯🇵 Japan
    🇳🇱 Netherlands
    🇮🇹 Italy
    🇩🇪 Germany
    🇳🇬 Nigeria
    🇹🇭 Thailand
    🇰🇪 Kenya
    🇨🇦 Canada
    🇦🇺 Australia
    🇮🇪 Ireland

Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.

Less Polarized Countries

Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.

    🇮🇩 Indonesia
    🇨🇳 China
    🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
    🇸🇬 Singapore
    🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
    🇲🇾 Malaysia
    🇮🇳 India

It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.

Looking Ahead

Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.

Edelman polarization quote

As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

Data note: Survey conducted: Nov 1 – Nov 28, 2022. Survey included 32,000+ respondents in 28 countries. Russia was omitted from this year’s survey. See page 2 of the report for more details.

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