Arizona added nearly 100,000 new residents this past year, more than virtually every other state in the nation.
New figures Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau put the state’s population as of July 1 at 6,731,484. In pure numbers, Arizona had the fifth highest increase.
That’s also translates out to a 1.45 percent increase from the same time a year earlier, a growth rate the seventh highest in the nation.
Despite that, Arizona still remains only No. 15 in overall population, the same as it was in 2013.
But at the time of the 2010 census, Arizona was 16th. And if the growth rate continues at this pace, Arizona could gain enough to pick up a 10th congressional seat after the 2020 decennial count.
Nationally, Texas led in pure population growth – and at a rate that could result in that state adding to its 36 seats in the U.S. House. But California, which did not grow nearly as fast, remains the most populous state in the nation.
In terms of pure percentages, though, tiny North Dakota topped the list, with its 2.16 percent population growth fueled by energy exploration.
So how did Arizona grow?
Some of it involves people here having babies. More than 86,000 of them. But that was partly offset by nearly 52,000 deaths in the same period.
But what really fueled Arizona’s growth came from outside.
According to Census Bureau figures, Arizona added close to 42,000 people who moved from some other state. And another more than 14,000 came here from other countries.
That computes out to more than 150 people moving here each and every day of the year.
Obviously, that’s nowhere close to Florida which grew by close to 690 people daily, including 380 from other countries. But that net in-migration still ranked Arizona No. 5 nationally for folks who came here from elsewhere.
The new Census Bureau figures for Arizona’s population growth are a bit higher than what the state itself has estimated. The Office of Employment and Population Statistics computes the year-over-year increase at just 86,187.
Economist Tom Rex of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University said he believes the state’s figures are probably more accurate. That would put Arizona’s population about 64,000 less than the Census Bureau numbers.
But Rex is not making a big deal about the disparity.
“Population estimate is very inexact due to data limitations,” he said. Unlike the decennial count, annual figures are put together working from samples including birth and death records and housing counts.
“A difference of 10,000 a year is not very large,” Rex said.
Rex was did question estimates of the number of people who have moved to Arizona in the past year.
The Census Bureau puts that at about 56,000; the state is figuring about 6,000 less. He said the difference “seems high given the employment change.”
During that same period, the state Department of Administration says Arizona added fewer than 60,000 jobs. But Rex said the numbers are not necessarily wrong.
“Presumably a fair portion of the net migration consists of retiring baby boomers,” he said, people who don’t need jobs here.
And Rex said even an influx of job seekers can be explained.
He pointed out that the state’s unemployment rate is dropping ever so slowly. It remained at 7.8 percent last month, down just a point from the same period a year earlier.
“In-migrants are filling a lot of the jobs created,” he said, rather than the new positions going to people who already are here and have been looking for work.
Fastest growing states by pure numbers:
1 – Texas – 451,321
2 – California – 371,107
3 – Florida – 292,986
4 – Georgia – 102,584
5 – Arizona – 96,487
6 – North Carolina – 95,047
7 – Washington – 87,788
8 – Colorado – 83,780
9 – South Carolina – 60,553
10 – Virginia – 55,944
– Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Fastest growing states by rate of increase:
1 – North Dakota – 2.16%
2 – Nevada – 1.71%
3 – Texas – 1.70%
4 – Colorado – 1.59%
5 – District of Columbia – 1.51%
6 – Florida – 1.49%
7 – Arizona – 1.45%
8 – Utah – 1.38%
9 – Idaho – 1.34%
10 – South Carolina – 1.27%
– Source: U.S. Census Bureau