Idaho was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2 percent to 1.7 million from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s national and state population estimates released today.
Following Idaho for the largest percentage increases in population were: Nevada (2.0 percent), Utah (1.9 percent), Washington (1.7 percent), and Florida along with Arizona (1.6 percent)...
States in the South and West continued to lead in population growth. In 2017, 38.0 percent of the nation’s population lived in the South and 23.8 percent lived in the West.
More locally, Wisconsin had a decent uptick in population growth after a stagnant last couple of years. The Census Bureau said Wisconsin grew by 22,566 people (0.4%) in 2017 - more than the 21,645 we added in 2015 and 2016 combined. The Census Bureau says that over 5.795 million people called Wisconsin home, ranking us 20th among the states (between Maryland and Colorado, FYI).
The figures did not break down the figures into individual communities (that report comes out later), but why did Wisconsin have this improved growth? 3/4 of it was due to what is known as “natural” population growth, where there were more births than deaths. And while we continued to lose people to other parts of the country between July 1 2016 and July 1, 2017, it wasn’t nearly as much as in prior years.
(side note, congrats to occasional Funhouse reader Amanda for adding to that birth total on Wednesday).
In comparing Wisconsin's population change to the rest of our Midwestern neighbors, a few other trends of recent years held up. The first was that our neighbors to the west in Minnesota added more than twice as many people as Wisconsin did, outpacing every other state in the Midwest, and was the only state in the region to surpass the U.S. growth rate of 0.72%. The other was that our neighbors to the south keep losing people at an alarming rate, suffering the largest population drop in America.
Population change, Midwest 2017
Minn +51,506 (+0.9%)
Ohio +36,555 (+0.3%)
Ind. +32,811 (+0.5%)
Mich +28,866 (+0.3%)
Iowa +14,842 (+0.5%)
Ill. -33,703 (-0.3%)
The comparisons between this statistic and the current NFC North standings are purely coincidental.
Interestingly, Minnesota’s strong population growth may save them from losing a Congressional seat in a few years. The good people at the Election Data Services organization used the new Census figures to update their Congressional projections for the next reapportionment for the House of Representatives , which is a bigger deal now that 2020 is fast approaching. In Minnesota’s case
The state is close to staying even or losing a seat. The short term (one-year) methodology shows Minnesota keeping its 8th seat with only 6,791 people to spare, but the longer term trends both indicate the state would drop down to seven (7) congressional districts in 2020.By the way, the 2016 version of that report said Wisconsin was also in danger of losing its 8th seat in Congress (and 10th electoral vote for president) if our slow growth in 2015 and 2016 continued for the next 4 years. But the bounce-back in 2017 has put us off the bubble for now.
It's good to hear that Wisconsin had this tick up in population growth, as attracting people and adding population is something that builds upon itself when it comes to looking at the prospects of a state's economic growth. But the negative net migration number should remind us that Wisconsin needs to invest in items that attract that talent and makes individuals decide to live here. That just doesn't include good-paying jobs, but it also involves good infrastructure, strong public schools, and a high quality of life.
And with a bitter cold snap looming, it's a reminder that climate already offers a headwind to Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest in this population growth stat. Acting like a low-wage, low-service Southern state isn't going to help when people can already head somewhere warmer if that's the type of regressive backwater they want to live in. So maybe we should get back to the ways helped to allow Wisconsin to average growth of nearly 33,000 people a year in the 2000s, instead of the backwards steps we have taken during the Age of Fitzwalkerstan.