Retirement States in U.S. See Slower Growth

(December 2009) Population growth has slowed considerably in several retirement-destination states in the South and southwestern United Sates, according to data released on Dec. 23 by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Florida, there was a net decrease in domestic (state-to-state) migration between 2007 and 2009—a dramatic reversal from trends earlier in the decade. Florida’s population grew by just 0.6 percent during the past year—the slowest growth rate since the mid-1940s. Population growth rates also dropped sharply in Arizona and Nevada, which were among the country’s fastest-growing states just a few years ago.

All three states have been disproportionately affected by the housing downturn and foreclosures during the past few years. In Florida and Nevada, unemployment rates exceed 11 percent and are among the highest in the country.

It’s a different story for several states in the Northeast, which have seen a recent resurgence in population growth. Between 2008 and 2009, Massachusetts had a positive net inflow of domestic migrants for the first time this decade, and population growth rates in New Jersey and New York were at their highest levels in more than five years. High levels of international migration have helped keep the populations in these states afloat, while populations in nearby Maine and Rhode Island are declining. The weak job market is also helping states in the Northeast retain more people. Most long-distance moves are linked to job opportunities, so when job losses mount, more people stay where they are.

These estimates provide a preview of the data that will be available from the 2010 Census next year. Those data will provide a more complete and accurate picture of population trends during the past decade.

Mark Mather is associate vice president of Domestic Programs at the Population Reference Bureau.