Census: Nation's estimated population up nearly 2.5%

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New York remains the third most populous state in the nation -- behind California and Texas -- but the state's lead over fourth-place Florida continues to erode, according to 2013 population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau released Monday.

The 2013 estimates also show the nation's population grew by 2.4 percent in the three years since the 2010 Census, with the South and the West leading the expansion. The total for the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico rose from 308,745,538 in 2010 to an estimated 316,128,839 in July 2013.

Separately, the bureau projected that Wednesday -- New Year's Day -- the U.S. population will be 317,297,938, an increase of 2,218,622, or 0.7 percent, from Jan. 1, 2013.

New York saw an increase of 1.4 percent from 19,378,102 people in the 2010 Census to 19,651,127 in the 2013 estimate, according to the bureau.

Robert Bernstein, a Census Bureau spokesman, said New York's numerical population increase between the 2012 and 2013 estimates -- just over 75,000 -- ranked ninth overall, "but when it came to the rate of increase [0.38 percent], New York was only 32nd" for the one-year period.

The modest increase in New York is a reflection of slower growth in the Northeast region. The population growth for the Northeast was 1.1 percent between 2010 and 2013, growing from 55,317,240 in 2010 to 55,943,073, according to the census estimates.

The Midwest region had the smallest growth, at 0.9 percent: 66,927,001 people in 2010 to 67,547,890 in 2013.

The South, the nation's largest population center, also had the highest percentage-point growth at 3.3 percent: from 114,555,744 in 2010 to an estimated 118,383,453 in 2013. The West was close behind, with a 3.2 percentage-point growth during the period, from 71,945,553 in the 2010 Census to an estimated 74,254,423 in July 2013.

Florida's population in the 2010 Census was 18,801,310, about 576,000 fewer than New York's 2010 Census population. However, Florida's population rose an estimated 4 percent between 2010 and 2013, to 19,552,860 -- about 98,000 fewer than New York's 2013 population estimate.

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That development follows a long-standing trend, said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

"The South plus West sunbelt first became a majority of the population in the 1980 Census at 52 percent of the population," Frey said in an interview. The Northeast and Midwest "grew very rapidly in the earlier years of our country," and now the sunbelt is where the largest population gains are occurring, he said.

"It's where the frontier of the country is. There's more opportunity, often housing costs are lower there, new jobs develop there," Frey said. "I also think the movement from the Northeast Corridor has a lot to do with the high cost of living."

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