Colorado growing at third-fastest rate in nation, behind Utah, Arizona

With a growth rate of 2.0 percent, Colorado shares the designation as the third-fastest-growing state in the nation, according to estimates released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Two of the state’s Four Corners neighbors led the nation in growth, with Utah pegging a 2.5-percent rate and Arizona placing second at 2.3 percent. Texas and North Carolina grew at the same rate as Colorado, as measured from July 1, 2007, to July 1, 2008.

In addition, Colorado ranked eighth in the nation for total population added. Its 96,686 net gain placed it behind Washington and ahead of Illinois. Texas led the nation in actual growth with 483,542 more residents in 2008 than the year before.

Top 10 fastest growing states. (Illustration/U.S. Census Bureau)

Top 10 fastest growing states. (Illustration/U.S. Census Bureau)

Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada had growth rates slightly behind Colorado, each tallying a 1.8-percent rate of growth. That marks a slide for Nevada, which has ranked among the four top growers in the nation since 1984, falling this year to eighth place.

Two states actually lost population over the year — Michigan, dropping by 46,000 or 0.5 percent, and tiny Rhode Island, getting even smaller, losing 2,000 net residents, or 0.2 percent.

The order of the five most populous states remains unchanged: California has the most residents, followed by Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois.

More tidbits from the Census Bureau on the new numbers:

• Six of the 10 fastest-growing states from 2007 to 2008 were Rocky Mountain states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Three others lined the south Atlantic coast: Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

• The West was the fastest-growing region (1.4 percent) between 2007 and 2008, but the South added the highest number of people over the period (1.4 million).

Colorado’s population has grown in each of the eight years since the 2000 census and now stands at 4,939,456, according to the official estimate. Another census gets under way next year — the local office in Lakewood is already hiring, with some part-time, temporary jobs paying as much as $18 an hour — for completion in April 2010. Congressional districts, state legislative districts and all manner of federal funding are allocated based on the census, which is mandated in the Constitution.

Here’s a look at Colorado’s population through the decade, measured each year on July 1:

2000 — 4,327,788
2001 — 4,431,918
2002 — 4,503,156
2003 — 4,548,339
2004 — 4,600,050
2005 — 4,662,734
2006 — 4,751,474
2007 — 4,842,770
2008 — 4,939,456

The official census figure for the state on April 1, 2000, was 4,301,261. Check here for Census “QuickFacts” about Colorado (based on 2002 and 2006 estimates), including the population of various cities and counties, ethnic breakdowns and the number of state residents who farm.

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Ernest Luning

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