Arkansas has more than 3 million residents, according to the latest estimate update from U.S. Census Bureau. The state’s population grew half a percent (16,048) from 2016 to this year. Gov. Asa Hutchinson told Talk Business & Politics it’s another indicator of the state’s robust economy. The numbers were tabulated through July.
“I think it’s a significant milestone … it’s great news,” he said.
Arkansas is ranked as the 32nd most populous state. The U.S. population grew seven-tenths of a point to 325,719,178 million people. The South had the highest number of residents with 122,423,457 million. The Northeast quadrant of the country had the least with 56,359,360 million.
Population is key when attracting job creators, Hutchinson said. It’s easier to attract a job creator when a state has more potential workers. Arkansas rates high in quality of life factors such as outdoor activities, he said. Hunting, fishing, biking, and walking trails and other outdoor activities are enjoyed by residents each year.
One problem the state has in luring job creators is its anemic unemployment rate. The state has an historically low rate of 3.6%, and it makes it more difficult to convince companies that workers will be available. Population growth helps with that argument, the governor said.
Idaho was the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2.2% to 1.7 million last year. Nevada (2.0%), Utah (1.9%), Washington (1.7%), and Florida along with Arizona (1.6%) were the next highest growers.
“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, U.S. Census chief of the population estimates branch.
The population of voting-age residents (adults age 18 and over) grew to 252.1 million (77.4 %) a nearly 1% increase from 2016 (249.5 million). Net international migration decreased 1.8% between 2016 and 2017, the first drop since 2012-2013. Net international migration continues to be a significant factor in the population growth of the U.S., adding just over 1.1 million people in the last year.
Eight states lost population. Illinois had the largest numeric decline, losing 33,703 people. Wyoming had the largest percentage decline (1%). Three states that had been losing population in the previous year, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Vermont, saw slight increases.
The new estimates show Puerto Rico had a population of 3.3 million, a decline from 3.4 million in 2016. The estimates for Puerto Rico are as of July 1, 2017, and therefore do not reflect the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. The estimates for Gulf states affected by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 and Hurricane Irma in September 2017 are not reflected in these numbers.
“You have two choices as a state, you either grow or you lose,” Hutchinson said. “You want to be growing.”
Following are the top five most populous states according to the latest U.S. Census estimate.