SAN FRANCISCO—California remained the most populous state in the nation this year once again with an estimated 36.8 million people in July 2008, according to a new Census Bureau estimates released one day before Christmas.
California is followed by Texas with 24.3 million people, New York's 19.5 million, Florida's 18.3 million and Illinois'12.9 million people.
Utah was the nation's fastest growing State for the past year as its population climbed 2.5 percent to 2.7 million people.
The latest numbers continued the existing trend establishing the West as having the highest percent growth (1.4%) between 2007 and 2008. The South, however, gained the most number of people over the same period during the last year, an estimated 1.4 million.
The study also showed that Arizona was the second fastest growing state for the past year increasing population by 2.3 percent. Growth rate in Texas, North Carolina, and Colorado each with a growth rate of 2.0 percent completed the top five fastest-growing states in the nation. Nevada, which had been among the four fastest-growing states each of the last 24 years, grew 1.8 percent and ranked eighth over the most recent period.
Six of the ten fastest-growing states since last year were Rocky Mountain States including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Three others lined the South Atlantic Coast—Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, according to the bureau's figures.
Population in the Northeastern states have also climbed in numbers making a turnaround from their declining growth rates released from 2000 to 2005.
New York State has been experiencing slight growth in its overall population. In the period between 2000 and 2008, New York gained just more than 513,000 people, according to the Bureau. The Census Bureau noted that New York which was estimated the third most populous state in the nation with 19.5 million people, was overtaken by Texas for the second spot in population growth since 1994. New York City accounts for 42 percent of the total New York state population.
The study revealed that Texas gained more people (484,000) than any other state for the same period this past year.
The only two states to lose population were Michigan and Rhode Island. Michigan's population decreased by 0.5 percent or 46,000 people according to the bureau's estimates, while Rhode Island's population declined 0.2 percent or 2,000 people.
The Census Bureau statistics are important source of information for the U.S. government because they are used in federal funding allocations. While the released estimates are for the past year till July 2008, experts have wondered how the ongoing financial meltdown on Wall Street and the growing number of overdue mortgages and foreclosures, especially in California and Florida, might affect population estimates in the future.