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National

Florida's Population Pushes New York Out Of 3rd Place

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's official - Florida is now the third most populous state in the union, knocking New York state down to fourth place. It's been a long time coming, but it is still a milestone for both states. California and Texas remain the top two states in terms of population. Andrew Beveridge is the CEO of Social Explorer, which breaks down census data into maps and charts. He's offered to crunch some numbers for us.

Welcome to the program.

ANDREW BEVERIDGE: Thanks, Robert. I'm glad to be here.

SIEGEL: And I should say, you are a New Yorker, I'm a New Yorker who's been living out of town for a few decades. How are New Yorkers taking the news that we don't even medal anymore?

BEVERIDGE: Well, I think they're sort of blase about it, to be honest. Because it really is, as you say, it's a milestone, it's been coming along for quite a while. But it's, you know, it's not like, a big surprise nor is it really going to change anything for anybody in any immediate way.

SIEGEL: What do the data say? How much growth in population has Florida seen this year, say, compared to New York state?

BEVERIDGE: Florida grew, I think, about 290,000 and New York only grew 50,000. And Florida's kind of reverted to its pattern of growth that it was experiencing before the financial crisis because after the financial crisis there was - a lot of migration stopped and so it's sort of started up again. And you know, also Florida had a lot of problems with the housing boom and the bust.

SIEGEL: Well, when you look at the gain of population Florida, is it mostly from migrants from other states, immigrants from other countries, are births exceeding deaths? What would you say?

BEVERIDGE: Because of the large population of 65-plus, Florida actually has a lower what's called natural increase. So in other words, its births over deaths is lower than New York's births over deaths. Both states have about the same number of immigrants going in from other countries. The real difference is the non-foreign-born population. New York had about 280,000 domestic migrants come in. Florida had about double that, about 560,000. And so I think that that really tells a story of why there's a shift.

SIEGEL: How much of this change in population is due to the fact that there are lots more people retiring from places like the Bronx to places like Orlando than there are people retiring from places like Orlando to places like the Bronx?

BEVERIDGE: Well, I think theirs some of that, but really what's driving this are people are going to Florida for jobs or because they want to live there, and you know, there's a number of things that are true, like, the median earnings are lower in Florida but the median house value is much lower and even the median rent is lower. So it's probably a lot less expensive to live in Florida than it is in New York. Certainly in the New York - part of New York that's the near the city.

SIEGEL: Nowadays, based on the 2010 Census, New York has 27 members of the House of Representatives and Florida has 27 members. Come the next census, what would you foresee?

BEVERIDGE: Well, according to a projection that was just released today by Election Data Services, the expectation is that New York will lose one more Congressional seat and Florida will pick up one more Congressional seat by 2020. And actually, that's not all that surprising and that is kind of the typical or ongoing power shift that we've been experiencing between, you know, the Northeast and the South and Southwest because that trend has been going on really since World War II.

SIEGEL: There is still quite a gap between fourth place and fifth, which I guess would be Illinois followed very quickly by Pennsylvania. Are those states, by the way, gaining population rapidly?

BEVERIDGE: No. In fact, those are the states that actually are having issues with growth.

SIEGEL: So New York's lock on fourth place looks pretty secure for now?

BEVERIDGE: You know, maybe if they split California? I don't know (laughter).

SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Beveridge, thanks a lot for talking with us.

BEVERIDGE: Very good. Thanks a lot Robert.

SIEGEL: That's Andrew Beveridge of Social Explorer, which analyzes census data, talking with us about the news that Florida now has, as expected, exceeded New York state in population. It's now the third most populous state in the union. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.