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US Census Annual State Population Estimates – Winners and Losers

Estimated are as of July 1, 2020. Northeast and Midwest regions are losing population to the West and South regions, a trend likely to be accelerated by Covid-19 and public safety concerns.

By Toby Tobin

PALM COAST, FL – December 22, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau yesterday released the annual population estimate for the country and individual states. (These are estimates as of July 1, 2020. They are not the official 2020 Census numbers.) The report confirms that the Northeast and Midwest regions are losing population while the West and Southeast regions benefit from population gains.

New York led the list of states losing the most residents; 126,355 (more than the total population of Flagler County). New York was followed by Illinois, California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to round out the top five.

Top Ten States with the greatest estimated loss of residents (July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020):

  1. New York: -126,355 (population peaked in 2015)
  2. Illinois: -79,487 (population peaked in 2013)
  3. California: -69,532 (population peaked in 2019)
  4. Michigan: -18,240 (population peaked in 2018)
  5. Pennsylvania: -15,629 (population peaked in 2018)
  6. Louisiana: -12,967 (population peaked in 2016)
  7. Mississippi: -11,441 (population peaked in 2014)
  8. West Virginia: -10,476 (population peaked in 2012)
  9. Connecticut: -9,016 (population peaked in 2013)
  10. New Jersey: -8,887 (population peaked in 2018)

Taxes Played a Major Role

A 24/7 Wall Street study published in March 2019, ranked states by the state and local burden measuring taxes paid as a percentage of income. There is a strong correlation between tax burdened states and those with the greatest population loss. The top five high tax states all made the top ten list of the greatest population decline.

Ten States with the highest state and local tax burden as a percentage of income:

  1. New York: 12.7%
  2. Connecticut: 12.6%
  3. New Jersey: 12.2%
  4. California: 11.0%
  5. Illinois: 11.0%
  6. Wisconsin: 11.0%
  7. Maryland: 10.9%
  8. Minnesota: 10.8%
  9. Rhode Island: 10.8%
  10. Massachusetts: 10.3%

Florida is #35: 8.9%

States gaining the most residents were largely from the South and West Regions:

  1. Texas: +373,965 (no state income tax)
  2. Florida: +231,256 (no state income tax)
  3. Arizona: +129,558
  4. North Carolina: +99,439
  5. Georgia: 81,997
  6. Washington: +79,588 (no state income tax)
  7. South Carolina: +60,338
  8. Tennessee: +56,509 (no state income tax)
  9. Colorado: +49,233
  10. Nevada: +47,488 (no state income tax)

Five of only nine states with no state income tax are on the top ten list of states gaining the most residents.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Covid-19 death rates by state (per 100,000 people) as of December 22, 2020 – those states that lost the greatest population are highlighted.

Source: Statistica:

  1. New Jersey: 205 (#10)
  2. New York: 188 (#1)
  3. Massachusetts: 171
  4. North Dakota: 162
  5. Connecticut: 159 (#9)
  6. Rhode Island: 158
  7. South Dakota: 156
  8. Louisiana: 153 (#6)
  9. Mississippi: 148 (#7)
  10. Illinois: 130 (#2)


State to state tax discrepancies will not likely shrink in the future because the exodus of particularly wealthy residents from high tax states will further erode the state’s tax base.

While the Covid-19 pandemic will pass, many lifestyle changes and coping mechanisms learned during the pandemic will not; much as the behavior of those who survived the Great Depression was permanently altered.

Civil unrest (riots) has not been as well documented because so much was underreported or misclassified as peaceful demonstrations. However, public safety is a powerful motivating force. If good statistics were available, it is anecdotally obvious that the high-tax states and high-coronavirus death rate states would be joined by the riot prone states on the top ten lists. Like lingering post-pandemic behavior, public safety too will continue to play a significant role in future migration patterns.

Flagler’s V-Shaped Recovery Facts

  • July 1 through November 30: Flagler County MLS single-family home sales are up 43.8% year-over-year.
  • July 1 through November 30: The median selling price has risen 12.7% from the same period one year ago.
  • July 1 through November 30: Sales volume (total value of single-family home sales) is up 71.4% over 2019.
  • July 1 through November 30, 2020: Median days on market is 33.
  • There are only 431 “Active Listings” of Flagler County single-family homes on MLS, only 1 ½ months’ worth of sales, and fewer than half the number available before the pandemic.
  • There are more contracts in the “Pending Sales” pile (571) than in the “Active Listings” pile.


Toby Tobin: REALTOR®

I'm a licensed Florida REALTOR® affiliated with Grand Living Commercial Realty in Palm Coast, Fla. As a real estate consultant to developers/builders, homebuyers, and sellers, and as a journalist, I have years of experience and a treasure trove of relevant data and local institutional knowledge.

Call me at (386) 931-7124 or email me at Toby@GoToby.com.

Listen to my radio show, Real Estate Mattersevery Saturday morning right after the 11:00 A.M. news break on WNZF News Radio at 1550 AM or 94.9 FM. Download the Flagler Radio App from the App Store so you can hear Real Estate Matters from anywhere in the world.

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Don "Toby" Tobin is a licensed real estate professional affiliated with Grand Living Realty. Toby is a member of the Flagler County Association of Realtors®, the Florida Association of Realtors, Enterprise Flagler, Flagler Home Builders Association, and the National Association of Realtors.

GoToby.com proivdes real estate news, commentary, and analysis for Palm Coast and Flagler Country Florida, as well as Realtor® referrals and consultation to buyers, sellers, and developers.