Texas gained 471,000 residents to lead the nation in population growth, followed by Florida (417,000), North Carolina (133,000) and Georgia (125,000). While Florida experienced the highest percentage change, a 1.9 percent growth, smaller states like Idaho (1.8 percent) and South Carolina (1.7 percent) ranked among the leaders in growth.
New York, which lost 180,000 residents, California (114,000) and Illinois (104,000) were the states losing the most people. These states have generally depended on immigration for growth, but the increase in new foreign-born residents this year was not enough to offset the number of residents leaving for other regions.
Growth in the nation was heavily concentrated. Texas and Florida, which comprise 16 percent of the nation’s population, accounted for 71 percent of the population growth last year, as those states led the country in attracting both immigrants and residents from other states.
California gained the most people through immigration, but also lost the most residents moving to other states.
The regional patterns playing out in 2022 are in many ways a continuation of long-term national trends. Since 1990, the population has grown by nearly 50 percent in the American South and West, but is up by just 12 percent in the Northeast and 15 percent in the Midwest.
The pandemic has helped push along a shift in the way population changes play out.
Until recently, natural change — births minus deaths — had always been the primary driver of growth in the United States. But even before the pandemic hit, the aging nation was already experiencing a decline in fertility and increase in deaths.
The pandemic killed more than one million Americans, and made immigration an increasingly important factor in population growth, even though immigration itself decreased in the latter part of last decade and early in the pandemic. Now, with the Census Bureau estimating a sharp uptick in foreign-born residents, immigration’s role in population growth is noteworthy.
In 24 states, the number of deaths exceeded births, a “staggeringly high” number, according to Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire. “This is highly unusual historically,” he added, noting that before the pandemic, it was typical for only one or two states to demonstrate such a trend each year.