A surge in migrants from other states made Florida the nation’s fastest-growing state this year for the first time in more than six decades, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.
The bureau’s latest estimates show Florida’s population grew by 1.9% in 2022, the largest percent increase in the nation. The third largest state behind only California and Texas added 444,484 new residents to reach a population of 22,244,823 people.
According to Census figures, more than 70% of the new residents relocated from within the U.S., as 318,855 moved from other states and 125,629 immigrated from other countries.
“While Florida has often been among the largest-gaining states, this was the first time since 1957 that Florida has been the state with the largest percent increase in population,” Kristie Wilder, a Census Bureau demographer, said in a press release.
The office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did not respond Friday to a request for comment. The Republican potential 2024 presidential hopeful has repeatedly touted business-friendly policies and his decision to minimize pandemic lockdowns as reasons people have moved to the state in recent years.
Census officials said Florida supplanted Nevada as the fastest-growing state in percentage terms. Nevada, whose population today is 22 times what it was in 1946, has claimed the top spot 36 times in the past 76 years. Other states at the top of the list have tended, unlike Florida, to be less populated as well: Arizona, Idaho, Utah, North Dakota and Alaska.
Nationally, the Census Bureau called surging immigration numbers “the primary driver of growth” in helping the U.S. population rebound in 2022 from a record-low 0.1% increase last year.
The U.S. population grew by 0.4% to 333,287,557 people this year, adding 1,256,003 residents. More than 80% of these new residents came from a net gain of 1,010,923 immigrants from other nations — a 168.8% increase over 376,029 international migrants added last year.
“A rebound in net international migration, coupled with the largest year-over-year increase in total births since 2007, is behind this increase,” Ms. Wilder said.
The net gain from births minus deaths added another 245,080 residents to the U.S. population, the Census found.
The census, which does not distinguish between legal and illegal immigration in counting new residents, found that all 50 states and the District of Columbia saw net gains in international migrants.
California led the way with 125,715 residents added from other countries — but joined Illinois as one of only two states to experience six-figure population decreases as Californians moved to other states.
Texas gained the most people in raw numbers, adding 470,708 new residents to reach a total population of 30,029,572.
Texas saw population gains from net domestic migration (230,961), net international migration (118,614), and natural increase (118,159) from births — and joined California as the only two states with more than 30 million residents.
Eighteen states saw population declines, led by New York, which lost 0.9% of its population for a net loss of 245,080 residents.
According to the conservative Convention of States Action, political preferences have increasingly motivated Americans to relocate from blue states such as California and New York to red states such as Florida and Texas.
A survey the advocacy group commissioned last month found more than 4% of independents and Republicans reported moving in the previous three years to “a region that aligns more closely” with their beliefs. About 1% of Democrats reported doing the same.
When asked about the coming year, those numbers increased to about 10% of independents and Republicans who said they plan to move. And 2% of Democrats reported similar plans for 2023, double the share who said they moved for political reasons in the past.
In a separate survey, Axios-Ipsos reported in August that Republicans were more likely to consider moving to red states (51%) than blue states (20%) or swing states (28%). Democrats were more likely to consider moving to blue states (48%) than red states (25%) or swing states (27%).
“For the most part, people look to be going to a safe space for them, for their ideological identity,” Ipsos pollster and Senior Vice President Chris Jackson said at the time.