Florida saw second-highest population growth in nation over last year

Florida trailed only Texas in population increases from 2020 to 2021, while the nation had the slowest growth rate in its history, according to information released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Florida grew by 211,196 residents from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021, to a population of 21,781,128, the census estimates show. Texas grew by an estimated 310,288 residents to a population of 29,527,941.

California continued to have the nation’s largest population at 39,237,836, though it lost a net 261,902 residents from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021. New York saw the largest decline of 319,020 residents, with its population dropping below 20 million, according to the census bureau.

While areas of the country such as Florida and Texas continued to see significant population increases, the nation’s growth rate was 0.1 percent, the lowest rate ever. The census bureau said that stemmed from a combination of factors, including COVID-19 deaths.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the census bureau’s population division, said in a prepared statement. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

Florida had the largest net migration gains in the country, a measurement of people moving in and out of the state. But it also had the biggest “natural” decrease in population, which involves comparing numbers of births and deaths.

A report last week from state economists pointed to “stronger than expected net migration” in Florida. But it also said, “Natural increase, the other component of population growth, was more negative than expected due to increased deaths.”

The census bureau said 33 states saw population increases from 2020 to 2021, and 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population. Generally, the numbers show population shifts from states such as New York, California and Illinois to states in the South and parts of the West.

The largest numeric population gains were in Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. The top percentages of growth were in Idaho, Utah, Montana, Arizona and South Carolina. Florida was eighth in percentage of growth.

The report last week by state economists included somewhat different population estimates for Florida — differences that also have occurred in the past. But the state economists predicted continued steady growth the coming years, projecting a population of 24.47 million in 2030.

The economists predicted average growth of 309,867 residents a year, or 849 a day, from April 1, 2021, to April 1, 2026.

“These increases are analogous to adding a city about the size of Orlando every year,” said an executive summary of the report by a state panel known as the Demographic Estimating Conference.

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