Washington’s population grew from 6.7 million in 2010 to 7.7 million in 2020; the equivalent of 1.37% annually.

Pew’s Fiscal Fifty takes a look at state population growth as reported by the U.S. Census. As most would expect, Washington performed well over the decade. As the map above, from Pew, shows, states in the West and Southeast generally grew faster than the 50-state median.

Here’s the snapshot; up a million.

Population grew by the equivalent of 1.37% per year from 2010 through 2020. 

2010: 6,724,540.   2020: 7,705,281

As Pew points out, growth – generally – is good.

A shrinking or slow-growing populace can be both a cause and an effect of weakened economic prospects. The states with long-term population declines all fell near the bottom of economic growth over the 12-year recovery from the Great Recession. Less economic activity can limit state revenue collections. Though a smaller population can lead to a reduction in some types of spending, it also means there are fewer residents to help cover the costs of long-standing commitments, such as debt and state employee retirement benefits.


States with fast-growing populations typically have strong labor force growth, which fuels economic activity and helps generate tax revenue to fund any increased spending on infrastructure, education, and other government services.

A couple of highlights.

A comparison of 10-year population trends, based on each state’s constant annual growth rate between April 2010 and April 2020, shows:

  • Apart from states with declines—West Virginia, Mississippi, and Illinois—the slowest population growth rates were recorded in Connecticut (0.09%); Michigan (0.19%); and Ohio, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania (0.23% each).    
  • States experiencing their slowest decade of growth ever were Illinois, Connecticut, and six others: Missouri (0.27%), Wisconsin (0.36%), California (0.60%), Hawaii (0.68%), Arizona (1.13%), and Florida (1.37%).
  • After Utah, Idaho, and Texas, the next fastest-growing states over the past decade were North Dakota (1.48%), Nevada (1.40%), Colorado (1.39%), and Washington and Florida (both 1.37%).
  • Growth was faster in the 2010s than in the 2000s in only 12 states: Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.
  • States whose economies rely on volatile energy-producing industries saw some of the sharpest changes in growth rates between the 2000s and 2010s. North Dakota’s rank improved the most from the 2000s, climbing to be the fourth-fastest-growing state from 36th, while Wyoming, New Mexico, and Alaska experienced the three largest drops in rankings.     
  • Between 2010 and 2020, total population in 50 states grew the equivalent of 0.71 a year, the slowest rate since the 1930s.

We look forward to further analysis of the Census data.