It's official: as of the U.S. Census Bureau's Tuesday's press release, Florida surpassed New York as third most populous state in the nation, leaving The Empire State trailing in its wake at an awkward No. 4. in population.
The bureau's numbers reflect population estimates for July 2014, and show that Florida now has as many as 19.9 million residents, compared to New York's 19.7 million. Perched comfortably at first and second place respectively are California with 38.8 million residents, and Texas at 26.9 million. According to the Census Bureau, The Sunshine State added an average of 803 residents a day, its population growing by 293,000 during the 12 months leading up to July 2014.
The toppling of New York to fourth place signals a marked shift in demographics as changing migration trends reshape American politics and culture. But it wasn't unexpected — nearly a year ago to this date, the Census Bureau released data showing that there was marginal difference in their population. Considering Florida's rapid growth, it was predicted that the sunny, sandy state would soon be bigger than its unforgivingly cold counterpart. Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, had said in December last year that Florida was "on a roll."
Speaking to the New York Times, Jan K. Vink, a specialist with the Program on Applied Demographics (PAD) at Cornell University, who researches and supplies the Census Bureau with data, also didn't express any surprise:
It was a long time coming. Florida has been growing much faster than New York.
But Florida has New York to thank for its population growth, at least partially. More people from New York move down south than from any other state. Florida's capital, Miami, considered by many to be the capital of Latin America, is home to a large number of immigrants from countries South of the American continent.
The bureau's estimates show residents leaving the North to head to the West and South. All of the 10 fastest-growing states were in the West or South, with the exception of North Dakota — who places first in population growth rate — noted the bureau's press release. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution and author of the book “Diversity Explosion," said:
We’re a country that, over our course of history, moved from an East Coast country to a West Coast country. Now, we’re dominated by the South and West.
Politicians will undoubtedly will take note of the Census Bureau's findings, particularly in Florida, the biggest swing state in presidential elections. If Republicans play their cards right, it could lead to a path to the White House in 2016.
Other notable changes in the bureau's estimates are North Carolina taking over Michigan's place in ninth, and Georgia, currently ranked eighth, saw its population exceed 10 million for the first time.
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