The number of Arkansas residents increased by 10,395 people in the last year as new births and native and foreign-born migrants moving to the Natural State grew the population base to nearly 3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates released Tuesday (Dec. 20).
Arkansas’ total population now stands at 2,988,248, up 0.3% from 2,977,853 a year ago. Nationally, the U.S. population grew by 0.7% to 323.1 million. Furthermore, the population of voting-age residents, adults age 18 and over, grew to 249.5 million, making up 77.2% of the population in 2016, an increase of 0.9% from 2015 (247.3 million).
Utah, which leapfrogged Mississippi and Arkansas, crossed the 3 million mark as it became the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Now the 31st largest state, its population increased 2% percent to 3.1 million from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, Census data shows.
Following Utah, Nevada (2%), Idaho (1.8%), Florida (1.8%) and Washington (1.8%) saw the largest percentage increases in population. North Dakota, which had been the fastest-growing state for the previous four years, mostly from people moving into the state, fell out of the top 10 in growth due to a net outflow of migrants to other parts of the country. Its growth slowed from 2.3% in the previous year to 0.1%.
Overall, the South continues to be the nation’s largest region with 122,319,574 residents. The West was second with 76,657,000, followed by the Midwest and Northeast with 67,941,429 and 56,209,510 residents, respectively.
“States in the South and West continued to lead in population growth,” said Ben Bolender, chief of the Population Estimates Branch. “In 2016, 37.9% of the nation’s population lived in the South and 23.7% lived in the West.”
In Arkansas, the number of new births at 37,936 surpassed the death tally by 7,355, accounting for 70.7% of the additions to the state’s total number of residents. The remainder of new Arkansans added to the state’s growing population base was due to the net migration of 3,335 foreign-born residents and another 195 out-of-staters deciding to move here.
Of the state’s burgeoning population, 76.4% or 2,283,195 residents are 18 years of age or older. The Census Bureau will release additional characteristics of Arkansas and U.S. inhabitants in early 2017, including sex, race and details of the fast-growing Hispanic population.
Overall, Arkansas is now the 33rd largest state, just behind Mississippi with 2,988,726 and just ahead of Nevada with 2,940,058. Besides Mississippi, the neighboring states of Missouri (0.3%), Oklahoma (0.4%), Tennessee (0.9%) and Texas ((1.6%) all saw population gains for the year.
Eight states lost population between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, including Pennsylvania, New York and Wyoming, all three of which had grown the previous year. Illinois lost more people than any other state (-37,508).
Two states that had been losing population in the previous year, Maine and New Mexico, saw increases in population of 0.15% and 0.03% respectively. In addition to the population data for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the new estimates show that Puerto Rico had an estimated population of 3.4 million, a decline from 3.5 million in 2015 as the country moves closer to insolvency.
Earlier this year, U.S. Census estimates showed that the Northwest Arkansas metro area accounted for most of the state’s population growth in the past five years, and only 35 of the nation’s 381 metro areas posted a higher population gain in the past five years than the fast-growing region.
Last year, Arkansas’ population increased by 11,369 residents. Since 2010, Arkansas’ population base has grown 2.5% and added 72,223 new residents, or about the size of Fayetteville.