Idaho saw its population boom by 2.2% over the last year, leading the nation in population growth during that period, according to U.S. Census Bureau data estimates released Wednesday.
The Gem State was followed by Nevada (2%), Utah (1.9%) and Washington (1.7%) and western states accounted for seven of the 10 states to see the biggest growth in terms of percentage of population between July 2016 and July 2017, according to the data.
Idaho boasts a strong economy and an unemployment rate of 2.9%. The state’s Department of Labor earlier this year published a forecast predicting population would grow by about 1.4% annually through 2025,
pushing Idaho's population to about 1.9 million residents.
“Domestic migration drove change in the two fastest-growing states, Idaho and Nevada, while an excess of births over deaths played a major part in the growth of the third fastest-growing state, Utah,” said Luke Rogers, Chief of the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates branch.
Texas tallied the biggest numeric growth with its population increasing by nearly 400,000 residents in 2017. The state’s population now stands at nearly 28.3 million residents —an increase of more than 3 million residents since 2010.
Meanwhile, seven states and Puerto Rico recorded population losses over the last year. Illinois lost more than 33,000 residents, dropping to the sixth most populous state in the union with 12,802,023 residents. It’s the fourth straight year that Illinois has recorded a population decline, according to the census data.
Illinois has seen residents walk away as the state's politicians have struggled to fix its finances. The state is bedeviled by a mountain of debt and unmet pension obligations —Moody's Investor's Service estimates the state has $250 billion public pension debt.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has been feuding with state Democrats and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the best way to deal with the state's long-brewing financial crisis. In July, state lawmakers enacted Illinois' first budget since 2015 when lawmakers managed to override Rauner's veto of a budget plan that included a more than 30% tax hike.
Pennsylvania, which saw a modest bounce it in its population over the last year, is now the fifth biggest state with a population of 12,805,537.
The U.S. territory Puerto Rico lost more than 69,000 residents last year and filed for the equivalent of federal bankruptcy protection
in May. The population exodus is likely much greater as the bureau’s estimate doesn’t account for the thousands of Puerto Ricans who left the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September.
Wyoming had the largest percentage decline among states, losing nearly 5,600 resident or about 1% of the state’s population.
The U.S. population grew by 2.3 million to 325.7 million, a less than 1% increase in population. Net international migration decreased 1.8% -- the first drop since 2012 to 2013.
Still, residents moving to the U.S. from other countries continue to be a significant factor in U.S. population growth as 1.1 million people moved to the U.S. over the last year, according to the census bureau.