States in the South and the West that grew by exceptional leaps and bounds during the real estate boom of just a few years ago are now experiencing sharply slower growth in population, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.
Many of those states are still projected to gain seats in Congress after the 2010 census, however, while industrial states in the Northeast and the Midwest will most likely see their delegations shrink.
But in a sign of the recession’s power to reshape established demographic trends, the new census figures show that growth has slowed substantially in Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, while in Florida, Nevada and California, more Americans moved out than in.
As a corollary, the new data show that several states in the Northeast — like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — are holding on to more residents.
“What we have is a decade of a roller coaster in terms of migration,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. “If you look at the middle part of this decade, Florida led the country in net domestic migration. Now it’s in the negative part of the ledger.”
The figures released Wednesday — the last state estimates to be published before actual results from the 2010 census count become available — reflect data as of July. The numbers are both the most up-to-date reflection of the recession’s impact nationwide, and the best available predictor of Congressional reapportionment.
In all, 17 states would be subjected to redistricting if the estimates hold in the door-to-door head count next year. Influence would generally shift from traditionally Democratic northern areas struggling with industrial decline and an aging population, to the South and the West, where independents are ascendant and disputes over immigration, taxes, and environmental issues, like water supply, tend to stand out.
Texas, for example, appears to be the big winner. It would gain three seats in Congress under the July estimate, bringing its total to 35. Between July 2008 and July 2009, it added more people from home and abroad than any other state — 231,539. That is more than Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and Nevada, combined.
More broadly, however, the recession that began in 2007 has significantly slowed the great American migration toward warmth and sun. It was a move, earlier in the decade, driven as much by quality of life as easy credit, according to demographers and economists. But the reversal is nearly as striking.
State rankings prepared by Mr. Frey, based on the new numbers, show that Florida is now 45th in domestic migration growth after ranking first from July 2001 to July 2005. It lost 31,179 people to other states from July 2008 to July 2009.
In terms of its total growth rate with foreign arrivals included, Florida now ranks 32nd, down from third in 2002.
Similarly, Nevada has fallen to 17th on the total growth-rate list, after leading the country from 2000 to 2004. It now ranks 36th in domestic migration, losing 3,801 people after adding more than 170,000 from other areas of the country from July 2003 to July 2006. Arizona, meanwhile, dropped to eighth in overall growth rate. Only three years ago, it was in first place.
“The population trends are obviously now being shaped by this economic decline,” said Andrew A. Beveridge, a Queens College demographer. “The places that have had a really big decline economically, the states hit most heavily by the real estate crisis, have certainly had a real decline of people showing up there.”
Earlier census reports suggested that the recession has been defined in part by a lack of mobility, as millions of Americans stay in homes they cannot sell. The new data also show that for the third year in a row, international immigration declined.
Politically, to some extent, that means that the demographic changes from the boom earlier in the decade are being locked in by the bust.
Formerly high-growth states are likely to gain seats in Congress. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington would add one seat each, according to an analysis of the figures by Dr. Beveridge at Queens College.
Politicians in Texas, whose economy has been buffered by high oil prices, a growing technology sector and less of a crash in real estate, are already haggling over what promises to be a contentious redistricting fight. In all, 18 Congressional districts in the state have added more than 100,000 people since 2000.
Much of the growth has been in conservative suburban districts around Dallas and Houston, but political scientists believe that many of the newcomers will lean liberal. “It means a Republican state becomes bigger and a little less Republican,” said Sean Theriault, a professor of government at the University of Texas.
Meanwhile, most of the states that would lose representation in Congress are those that spent the first two-thirds of the decade funneling people south. Ohio would lose two seats, leaving it with 16, Dr. Beveridge found. States losing one seat include Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Or at least that is how it looks right now. Cincinnati officials fought what they described as a census undercount tied to a population estimate in 2007, and state officials in Ohio said Wednesday that they were doing everything possible to ensure that everyone was counted so that only one seat would be lost.
“The bottom line is no one should count Ohio out,” said Amanda Wurst, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat. “We’re going to make sure that the population is accurately reflected in the census, and fight for that Congressional seat.”
James C. McKinley Jr. contributed reporting from Houston, and Ian Urbina from Washington.