The latest population-estimate data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm that our region is a growth behemoth. As scholar Randal O’Toole observed, between 2021 and 2022, “Texas grew by 470,000 residents” and “Arizona by 94,000” — No. 1 and No. 5, respectively, in total expansion. (The Lone Star State ranked fourth in percentage increase, narrowly behind Florida, Idaho, and South Carolina.)
But the Institute wanted to see the impact on population change in the era of COVID-19 lockdowns. So we looked at the last two years. Using that yardstick amplifies the role the American Southwest is playing in the country’s dramatic regional shift.
While U.S. growth was a mere 0.536 percent between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2022, Utah ballooned by 2.954 percent — five and a half times greater. Texas (2.727 percent) and Arizona (2.497 percent) notched impressive gains as well. Nevada (1.994 percent), Oklahoma (1.384), and Colorado (0.952) soundly beat the national mark.
California has Hollywood. Silicon Valley. Aerospace. Oil and gas. Tremendous scenic beauty and recreational opportunities. What it didn’t have, between 2020 and 2022, was population growth. The state lost 1.196 percent of its residents. (Los Angeles County more than doubled California’s disappearing act, driving away 2.713 percent of its residents.)
New Mexico was the region’s second loser, with a 0.238 percent drop.
The blue-state model may be hobbling the Golden State and the Land of Enchantment, but in the rest of the American Southwest, growth is impressive — and evidently, sustainable. Our region remains on two tracks. One keeps government in its place, welcomes entrepreneurs and investment, and embraces education freedom. The other pursues public policies founded on eco-utopian, social-justice fantasies.
Which approach do you think is working better?