The U.S. population is growing at its slowest rate since 1937, with the West and South growing faster than Northeast, according to Census Bureau figures reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. population grew by 0.6 percent, to 327.2 million people, between fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018. That is the smallest increase in more than 80 years, William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told the Journal. The falling growth rate can reportedly be attributed to the nation's low birthrate and a rising death rate.
The states with the highest population growth were Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Florida. Meanwhile, the populations of New York, West Virginia, Louisiana, Illinois, Hawaii, Mississippi, Connecticut, Alaska and Wyoming decreased.
The statistics are an early look at which states might gain or lose congressional seats after the 2020 census.
“The future is in the West, and to some degree in the South, and that’s where the political winds will blow,” Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, told the Journal.
The population of Puerto Rico declined by 3.9 percent, as nearly 130,000 left Puerto Rico in the last year following Hurricane Maria.
“Puerto Rico has seen a steady decline in population over the last decade,” Sandra Johnson, a statistician for the Census Bureau, said in a statement. “Hurricane Maria in September of 2017 further impacted that loss, both before and during the recovery period.”
Nevada and Idaho grew in population by 2.1 percent in the year ending July 1.
Washington, D.C., surpassed a population of 700,000 for the first time since 1975, reaching 702,455, according to the Census Bureau estimates.
“Many states have seen fewer births and more deaths in recent years,” Johnson said. “If those states are not gaining from either domestic or international migration they will experience either low population growth or outright decline.”
The Journal noted that Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon would gain congressional seats if the House of Representatives were apportioned based on this year’s census data.
Michigan, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island would lose seats.