Census: Nevada, Idaho lead US population gains; Puerto Rico, West Virginia suffer losses

Census: Nevada, Idaho lead US population gains; Puerto Rico, West Virginia suffer losses
In this July 28, 2014, file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam that impounds Colorado River water at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. In terms of percentage change in its population, Nevada and Idaho led the nation. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) (John Locher)

(RNN) – When it comes to percentage of population gain for states, Nevada and Idaho grew fastest in the span of a year, the U.S. Census Bureau said in a report released Wednesday.

Both grew in population by about 2.1 percent between July 1, 2017, and July 1, 2018. Also growing rapidly are Utah, Arizona, Florida and Washington.

In terms of greatest percentage loss of population, Puerto Rico, which is still suffering from Hurricane Maria, experienced the greatest loss - 3.9 percent of its population, or nearly 130,000 people. Hurricane Maria ravaged the island in September 2017. Several have sharply criticized the federal government response to the disaster, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

A map from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the percentage of population change in the states.
A map from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the percentage of population change in the states. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Nine states lost population. West Virginia lost 0.6 percent of its population in a year. The population also declined by smaller percentages in Illinois, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York and Mississippi.

The government details gains and losses in its national and state population estimates.

Population changes depend on birth, deaths, people leaving a state and people moving to a state.

“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” said Sandra Johnson, a demographer/statistician in the Population Division of the Census Bureau. “If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration, they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”

California remains the state with the highest population in the nation, followed by Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

Texas experienced the highest numeric growth, with 379,000 entering the state via birth or migration from other places. Florida, Arizona, California and North Carolina also led the nation in terms of numbers increase.

Nationally, the U.S. gained about 1.04 million people through natural increase - the impact of a greater number of births versus deaths. The rate of natural increase has been decreasing steadily over the decade because more people are dying and fewer are being born. The natural rate of increase was 1.8 million in 2008.

The Census Bureau said 978,826 people migrated to the U.S. from other countries, slightly higher than the previous year.

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