National estimates put the U.S. population at just over 300 million based on the Census Bureau’s U.S. Population Clock. It is expected that America will see a surge in the population, primarily due to immigrants, with the addition of 100 million people added over the next 35 years. With the continued growth in population, analysts are starting to examine the future geographical distribution of the population within the 50 states.
Although the size of the US population ranks third in the world, America is among the least densely populated nations with a population density of 86 people per square mile. This means there is still plenty of land in the country for future population growth, but there is a marked inequality in the way the population is spreading out.
The Center for Environment and Population (CEP) notes that the American population has been increasingly distributed to the west and south over the past few decades, resulting in accelerated growth among the cities in these regions. The coastal regions are especially impacted, as estimates note that more than 50% of the entire population already resides within 50 miles of the coast. Estimates by the CEP predict that about 25 million more people will locate to the costal regions within the next 10 years. This puts substantial pressure on costal cities because the land mass in these areas accounts for only one-fifth of the country’s total land mass.
As a comparison, the population density in costal regions is expected to be five times higher than most other regions of the United States. As migration patterns shift toward costal communities, inland and mid-west states are already experiencing lower or stagnant growth in population.
Population concentration in costal regions may create “mega cities” with people moving to them for employment. Heavily populated regions also raise concerns such as terrorism and spread of infectious diseases.
As costal communities become saturated, forces of supply and demand are likely to nudge a portion of the population back to inland and mid-western states who may be drawn by lower labor costs, more affordable housing, additional land space, etc. This trend is already taking place in some parts of the country. For instance, the population in Idaho and Utah has grown by 10% in five years, which is twice the national rate. In Tennessee, the number of foreign-born people has gone up by 140% with new residents opting out of usual destinations such as New York, California and Texas.
If you are considering moving to a costal region such as San Diego County in California, be sure to obtain the services of a local real estate agent. Your agent can help you locate your dream home, townhouse or condo, and help make your transition a smooth one.
Sources: Wall Street Journal; Realtor Magazine Online (October 2006)