Population 2022 Estimates: People Voting with Their Feet

By at 22 December, 2022, 3:35 pm


by Raymond J. Keating –

The U.S. Census released its U.S. population estimates for 2022 on December 22. For economists such as myself, this is exciting stuff – like Santa Claus came a few days early.

Anyway, as for the total U.S. population, Census reported:

“After a historically low rate of change between 2020 and 2021, the U.S. resident population increased by 0.4%, or 1,256,003, to 333,287,557 in 2022.”

That return to some degree of growth in the population was overwhelmingly due to a recovery in international immigration, with net international migration going from 376,029 in 2021 to 1,010,923 in 2022. This is a relevant point when we’re looking at U.S. labor shortages going forward. That is, we will need immigration reforms that welcome those willing to work and startup businesses, while, of course, keeping out the few who seek to do harm.

State population changes – including net domestic migration, i.e., movement of people between the states – are always fascinating and instructive. In 2022 compared to 2021, 18 states experienced population declines.

Let’s look at what occurred in the largest states.

● California, the largest U.S. state in terms of population (39,029,342), saw a population decline of 113,649, which ranked as the second largest drop-off in 2022. California had the worst performance in terms of net domestic migration at -343,230.

● Texas, the second largest state, experienced the largest increase in state population at +470,708. With that increase, the population of Texas registered 30,029,572, now being the second state, along with California, to top 30 million people. The Lone Star State saw a large increase in net domestic migration at +230,961.

● Florida, the third largest state, experienced the largest percentage increase in state population at +1.9%, registering a total resident population of 22,244,823. The state population increased by 416,754 (second largest increase after Texas), and Florida led the way in terms of net domestic migration at +318,855.

● New York, which is the fourth largest state (19,677,151), suffered the largest population decline among the states at -180,341. The Empire State also had the second worst record in terms of net domestic migration at -299,557.

● Pennsylvania, the fifth largest state (12,972,008), did not perform well, with its overall population declining by 40,051 and net domestic migration coming in at -39,957.

● Illinois was a big loser. While having the sixth largest population (12,582,032), that population declined by 104,437 in 2022, with net domestic migration bleeding at -141,656.

The trend among the largest states is unmistakable (and it generally holds for smaller states as well), and that is, people vote with their feet. And they are generally fleeing states with significant governmental burdens like higher taxes – see California, New York, and Illinois – and going to states with fewer burdens – see Texas and Florida. Do other factors come into play? Yes, of course. Do governmental costs matter? They most certainly do.

And counted among these population movements most certainly are current and future entrepreneurs, who not only drive economic growth but most acutely feel the costs of government and most clearly see the trends in population, as those movements obviously mean movements in terms of customers and workers.

While things like the weather cannot be controlled, the size and cost of government most certainly can. These are choices made by elected officials. Will politicians in places like California and New York ever learn that they cannot simply tax with impunity? Well, they haven’t for decades.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. His latest book is The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist.


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