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New Jersey Shows Small Population Growth in Latest Census Estimate

December 20th, 2017 by

State’s population tops 9 million for the first time

Reports of New Jersey population loss have been greatly exaggerated.

New Census Bureau state population estimates are out, and they show New Jersey’s population increasing by 27,228 between 2016 and 2017, which represents a 0.30 percent increase. The nation’s population increased by 0.72 percent, so New Jersey grew by less than half the national rate.

Still, this is an improvement compared to recent years, in several ways. New Jersey’s 2015-2016 growth rate was only 0.21 percent (less than one-third of the national growth rate of 0.74 percent), and was an even smaller 0.19 percent between 2014 and 2015 (barely more than one-fourth of the national rate of 0.76 percent), so New Jersey is not lagging as far behind the national growth rate as it had been in the two most recent prior years.

New Jersey has also hit a milestone this year, with its population exceeding the 9 million mark for the first time (the official population estimate for July 1, 2017, stands at 9,005,644). New Jersey remains the 11th most populous state in the nation, a rank it has held since 2005, after Georgia and North Carolina both surpassed it.

This year, New Jersey’s growth rate, small as it may seem, is enough to rank it number 32 out of the 50 states, meaning there are 18 states that grew more slowly than New Jersey. Last year, New Jersey ranked 38th, so there were only 12 states that grew more slowly than New Jersey between 2015 and 2016. What’s more, eight states actually lost population between 2016 and 2017 — Wyoming (with the biggest loss, at -0.96 percent), West Virginia, Illinois, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Dakota — compared to only six states having lost population between 2015 and 2016, so New Jersey is managing to stay in positive territory even as losses become slightly more widespread. The other 10 states that lagged New Jersey between 2016 and 2017 but still posted positive growth rates are Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York ,Vermont, and Connecticut.

Looking at growth over the whole decade so far, New Jersey ranks 34th in 2010-2017 growth rate, at 2.43 percent, compared to 5.49 percent for the nation as a whole. Three states have lost population since 2010 — West Virginia, Vermont, and Illinois. New Jersey’s 2010-2017 growth rate puts it ahead of just about every other New England and Mid-Atlantic state — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont have all grown more slowly than New Jersey since 2010, and New York’s rate is virtually identical to New Jersey’s. Among Northeastern states, only Massachusetts, Maryland, and Delaware have outpaced New Jersey so far this decade.

New Jersey ranked 37th among the states for growth between 2000 and 2010, so it is actually doing better so far this decade than last, in terms of how its growth compares to other states. But New Jersey should not count on staying ahead of most of the rest of the Northeast if it continues to lose its Millennial population.

As a side note, Pennsylvania has reclaimed the no. 5 spot, moving back ahead of Illinois, which passed Pennsylvania in 1998. Illinois has actually lost population that last couple of years, while Pennsylvania continues to gain very slowly.

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