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Top 10 fastest-growing states


The fastest-growing state in the U.S. isn't one that grabs many headlines. It's not California or Texas or Florida. It's North Dakota.

The huge landmass in the Upper Midwest, with a population smaller than Rhode Island, has seen the highest population growth over the past year, and the highest rate of growth since the 2010 Census, according to the Bureau's recently-released figures.

Although the U.S. Census Bureau hasn't released more specific information detailing whether the population growth among the states is coming from immigration or new births, the growth in North Dakota is obvious.

Its growth has to do with shale deposits, said Lisa Neidert, a data scientist at the Population Studies Center Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

The shale deposits in the West mean booming oil and gas jobs and that is fueling growth not just in North Dakota, but South Dakota and Wyoming, which all cracked the top 20 states in population growth for the first time.

Other states in the top 10 grew for other reasons, Neidert said. For Utah, which trails North Dakota, the growth may be more organic -- there are simply more babies born there than folks who die. Then there are states such as Texas, which has a growing native population and an immigrant population relocating from other states.

10. South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, S.C. Shutterstock

Population growth: 1.08 percent

The state has been growing, along with the rest of the Southeast, including North Carolina and Georgia because cost-of-living is low and job opportunities are increasing. 

9. Washington

Seattle Shutterstock

Population growth: 1.1 percent

Washington has seen steady growth, particularly in the Seattle area, where technology jobs have been booming. Home prices have gone up and the cost-of-living has too, but the area is still attracting lots of young people. 

8. Arizona


Population growth: 1.15 percent

Arizona's population grew 25 percent from 2000 to 2010, and remains on the upward trend. Phoenix and Tucson continue to attract new residents, partially because there's plenty of room to grow in these cities. While California's cities have been completely developed, Arizona's still have room to breathe, allowing more growth, particularly for retirees. 

7. Florida


Population growth: 1.2 percent

Census analysts expected Florida's population to actually surpass New York, which would have made it the third most populous state in the country. But the recession seemed to dampen growth in Florida, as sun-seeking seniors delayed plans to move south. It didn't quite make the jump in 2010. However, the state's population is growing faster than New York's and at its current rate of growth, Florida will surpass New York sometime this year.

6. South Dakota


Population growth: 1.3 percent

South Dakota's growth, while not as great as its northern twin, is similar. Oil and gas work has boomed in the state and attracted a lot of newcomers. Its population grew only 8 percent from 2000 to 2010, but it has grown 3.7 percent in the past three years alone. 

5. Nevada

Fremont Street is Las Vegas. Creative Commons

Population growth: 1.3 percent

Nevada barely edged out South Dakota, but it's growing in a similar way. People are going there for jobs, but they may not necessarily be staying long. Nevada's growth in immigrants in the last decade far outpaced its natural growth, by about 3 to 1, according to Neidert. So it's likely that the population growth that occurred in the past four years is similar. Plus, the housing crisis that hit Nevada so hard may have brought more people into the city, looking for rock-bottom prices on housing. 

4. Texas

Dallas Creative Commons/Flickr user Dave Hensley

Population growth: 1.49 percent

Texas truly has been an economic powerhouse and has been steadily growing for more than a decade. The state weathered the Great Recession well, its housing market barely busted and its economic and job growth has beat out plenty of other states. Plus, it's one of a handful of states without income taxes. Texas did very well with both attraction and retention, a sign of steady, more permanent job growth, Neidert said.

3. Colorado

Hikers on the North Inlet Trail in Colorado. Creative Commons/ Flickr user Brian & Jaclyn Drum

Population growth: 1.52 percent

Like Texas, Colorado's growth has been organic, both in attraction and retention. When people arrive in Colorado, they tend to want to stay because of the high standard of living and the stable economy. That state has grown nearly 5 percent since the 2000 Census and is on track to continue that growth. 

2. Utah

Salt Lake City Creative Commons/ Flickr user danishdynamite

Population growth: 2.1 percent

Between the 2000 and 2010 Census, only 35 percent of Utah's population growth came from immigration. The state's population grew 24 percent over that period, and while it's not quite on track to match that this decade, it has grown about 5 percent since 2000.

1. North Dakota

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Population growth: 3.14 percent

Oil has meant growth for North Dakota, but that growth may be short-lived.

"One last thing to consider is that many of the really fast growing states, like North Dakota and South Dakota, are unlikely to retain their migrants once the drilling wells are established," Neidert said. "This is a temporary boom to these states that is not likely to last."

Still the growth has been great: North Dakota's population has grown a whopping 7.5 percent since 2000.

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