RI is one of 2 states losing population

New England growing slower than rest of US

Updated: Thursday, 20 Dec 2012, 2:35 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 20 Dec 2012, 10:33 AM EST
By Ted Nesi, WPRI.com Reporter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - More Rhode Islanders are saying farewell to the state. Rhode Island's population fell by 354 in the year ended June 30, 2012, reducing its population to 1,050,292, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Thursday. That's a decline of 0.03% compared with a year earlier. Only one other state lost population in 2011-12: Vermont, where the population decreased by 581, or 0.09%.

The Census Bureau said Rhode Island had 10,706 babies born and 9,263 residents die from July 2011 through June 2012. In addition, 5,340 residents left for another state while 3,553 immigrants moved to Rhode Island from other countries. Those factors combined for a net loss of 354 residents.

Rhode Island's population peaked at an estimated 1,075,835 in 2004 and has declined every year since then, according to a state government analysis. The state has lost a total of 25,543 residents over the past eight years, the Census Bureau estimates.

The fastest-growing U.S. state this year was North Dakota, where the population rose by 2.2% amid a boom in its fossil-fuel sector. "Each of the 10 fastest-growing states were in the South or West with the exception of North Dakota and South Dakota," the Census Bureau said.

The population of the entire United States increased by 2.3 million or 0.75% over the last year, rising to 313.9 million people. Texas added the most residents with an increase of 427,400, followed by California (357,500), Florida (235,300), Georgia (107,500) and North Carolina (101,000).

The states with the biggest populations as of July 1 were California (38 million), Texas (26.1 million), New York (19.6 million), Florida (19.3 million) and Illinois (12.9 million).

The new Census figures show Rhode Island is the second-densest state in the U.S., with an average of 1,016 residents per square mile, compared with just 88 people per square mile nationwide. The densest state is New Jersey.

Rhode Island was the slowest-growing state in New England and the second-slowest-growing in the United States between 2000 and 2010. The populations of the South and West grew at much faster rates than those of the Midwest and Northeast over the past decade.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed 16 of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns were losing population, with the largest decreases in Middletown and Newport (down 6.8% each). The biggest population increases were in West Greenwich (up 20.6%), North Smithfield (12.7%) and South Kingstown (9.7%).

It's expected that Rhode Island will lose one of its two congressional seats after the 2020 U.S. Census because of the state's slow population growth, which in theory could result in an election race pitting incumbents Jim Langevin and David Cicilline against each other if both are still in office at that point.

Ted Nesi
( tnesi@wpri.com ) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com and writes the Nesi's Notes blog. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi