Population Changes in Big States and Counties Tell the Story About Opportunity (and Government Burdens)

By at 1 May, 2019, 1:45 pm

by Raymond J. Keating-

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its latest population estimates for counties across the nation. The numbers point to an interesting, and predictable, development in terms of people – at least in part – seeking out greater economic opportunity.

Consider population changes in the four largest U.S. states – California, Texas, Florida and New York.


From July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, California’s state population grew at a slower pace than U.S. population growth – +0.4 percent in California vs. +0.6 for the U.S.

Los Angeles County, which is California’s largest county, actually experienced a decline in population over this period, a drop of 0.1 percent. The second largest county, San Diego, grew by 0.5 percent, and the third largest county, Orange County, grew by 0.2 percent.


From July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, the population of Texas grew by 1.3 percent, which was more than twice the 0.6 percent growth in the U.S. population.

The largest county, Harris County, grew by 0.7 percent. The second largest county, Dallas, expanded by 0.6 percent. And the third largest county, Tarrant, grew by 1.3 percent, and number four, Bexar County, was up by 1.4 percent.


From July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, Florida’s population grew by 1.5 percent, which was two-and-a-half times the 0.6 percent growth rate in the U.S. population.

The largest county, Miami-Dade, grew at 0.6 percent, with the second largest county, Broward, expanding by 0.9 percent, and number three, Palm Beach County, growing by 1.1 percent and number four, Hillsborough, up by 1.9 percent.

New York

From July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, while the U.S. population grew by 0.6 percent, New York’s state population declined by 0.2 percent.

Out of the five counties that lie within New York City, four suffered population declines. The Bronx declined by 0.5 percent; Kings County (Brooklyn) fell by 0.5 percent; New York County (Manhattan) fell by 0.1 percent; and Queens dropped by 0.8 percent. Only Richmond County (Staten Island) grew in New York City, by 0.1 percent. For good measure, out of the largest suburbs to the city, the population also fell in two of three counties. On Long Island, while Nassau County grew by 0.1 percent, Suffolk County declined by 0.2 percent. And Westchester County’s population declined by 0.2 percent.

These recent trends in population are powerful indictments of state and local officials who think that they can keep piling on individuals, families, entrepreneurs and businesses with more and more governmental burdens without consequences.

In fact, given that California and New York impose among the most weighty tax and regulatory burdens in the nation, while Texas and Florida show substantive restraint is such areas, the differences in population growth are not surprising.

A significant number of people vote with their feet, in part, seeking out greater economic opportunity. So, there are very real, negative consequences for inflicting high tax and regulatory costs, especially for the growth of entrepreneurship and the health of small businesses.


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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