MIAMI, Florida: This decade, the US south is expected to see more new residents than any other region in the country for the first time in history.
According to population data from the US Census Bureau, in 2022 the south outgrew other US regions by well over 1 million people, with births outpacing deaths and domestic and international migration.
In contrast, the northeast and midwest lost residents, and the west only grew by 153,000 people, due to many residents moving to other American regions. However, the west did not experience a population loss, as the combined number of new immigrants and births exceeded deaths.
Meanwhile, the south, led by Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, grew by 1.3 million new residents.
A combination of affordable housing, lower taxes, the popularity of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic era and retiring baby boomers could be the reasons for this shift to the southern states, said observers.
Urban planner Alex Zakrewsky, who models the population center, said that if the trend continues during this decade, by 2030, the mean center of the US population will be south in a rural county in the Missouri Ozarks, without a westward extension for the first time in history.
He added that since the population center was first calculated to be in Chestertown, Maryland, in 1790, it has moved westward, but in the 20th century, it gradually shifted at a southwestern direction, as the use of air conditioning made the South more livable.
"If this really pans out, it is really historical," Zakrewsky said, as quoted by the Associated Press.
According to North Carolina state demographer Michael Cline, the growth in the South has been "above and beyond" trends the region experienced before the COVID-19 pandemic, which could have encouraged many to relocate from cold-climate states or allowed people to work remotely for the first time, according to the Associated Press.
William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Metro think tank, said that the trend could be related to the pandemic or might continue through the rest of the decade. "A big wild card is immigration, which was responsible for most of the growth in 2022," he said, as reported by the Associated Press.