Tennessee’s population growth dipped in 2013 and trailed the rate in the nation and the otherwise fast-growing South, according to new census estimates released Monday.
Tennessee added 41,064 residents in the past year and has a population of 6,495,978, still ranking 17th in the nation. The rate of growth was down slightly from the year before but still similar to the past five years.
North Dakota’s population boom, driven by the state’s thriving oil and gas industry, led the nation in 2013, expanding at nearly twice the rate of the next-fastest-growing state.
The West and South continued to drive population growth nationally, accounting for more than 4 in 5 new residents, while growth in the Northeast and Midwest continued to lag.
Population estimates are watched by state officials since they determine the flow of money into many federal programs and, ultimately, representation in Congress. The number of representatives each state has in the House gets readjusted each decade.
California (38,332,521) and Texas (26,448,193) remain the most populous states, with New York (19,651,127) narrowly maintaining its third position over Florida (19,552,860) as of July 1. The Sunshine State’s population grew three times faster than New York’s, according to the census estimates, which are based on data measuring births, deaths and migration.
States that saw big growth have been spurred by special circumstances, said David Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. He pointed to oil and gas industry growth in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, and states rebounding from the housing crunch, as the ones now outpacing the national rate.
By contrast, Tennessee’s growth rate has been relatively steady for the past five years, and some of its cities, especially in Middle Tennessee, are growing, he said. Census estimates from earlier in 2013 pointed to substantial growth in Montgomery, Williamson, Wilson and Rutherford counties, which were among the top 100 for growth from 2010 to 2012.
Clarksville was among the fastest-growing cities of at least 50,000 residents, and in pure numbers of people, Nashville ranked 15th for its gain of more than 12,300 newcomers.
William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said Tennessee is among Southern states that have seen a leveling off after large gains.
“The big flows that were going to the Sun Belt, the New South, they’re not yet back to where they should be,” he said.
The latest release doesn’t measure demographics, although many of the states that grew were in areas where the Hispanic population has been growing rapidly.
California’s population growth again outpaced the national trend, with an increase of 332,643 year to year, or 0.9 percent. Texas saw a greater raw population increase, however, expanding by 387,397.
Since the 2010 census, North Dakota’s population has grown 7.6 percent, far outpacing the national growth rate of 2.4 percent during that period.
West Virginia and Maine actually saw slight population declines in the past year. Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Vermont and Illinois posted the slowest population growth, all at or near a tenth of a percentage point year to year.
The national population stood at 316,128,839 on July 1, an increase of 2.3 million, or 0.7 percent from the previous year.
Population growth in the South accounted for half of all population growth nationally, though the West grew at a slightly faster pace in the past year.
The Tribune Washington Bureau contributed to this report.