Reuters, Published February 14 2014
Analysis: Top energy producing states rank at top and bottom of population growthWhile high levels of energy production have driven explosive population growth in North Dakota, Colorado and Texas, it has not helped demographics in other top producers Pennsylvania and West Virginia, according to a Fitch Ratings report.
Fitch's analysis is based on state population estimates released in December 2013 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
"Three of the top-five fastest growing states saw an expanding economy spurring the population growth as a result of strong energy production," said Eric Kim, director at Fitch. "But energy production is just one factor in a state's complex economic and demographic profile. Consider Texas, with an economy that has experienced significant expansion beyond the still significant energy sector."
North Dakota was the fastest growing state in 2013 with 3.14 percent growth year over year - four times the national population growth rate and nearly twice that of Utah, the state with the second highest rate. Colorado and Texas ranked third and fourth in population growth, respectively.
Energy production alone does not support rapid population gains. Pennsylvania and West Virginia produced the fourth and fifth most energy of all U.S. states in 2011, yet both ranked in the bottom three for year-over-year population growth in 2013, and in the bottom nine for population growth since the start of the decade.
West Virginia and Maine were the only states to see a population decline in 2013.
Long-term regional population growth trends held in 2013 with the South and West significantly outpacing the Northeast and Midwest. New England states, other than Massachusetts, all fell within the bottom 10 for population growth in 2013. Fitch expects the Northeast and Widwest regions to continue to lag the South and West going forward.
Steady population gains often reflect positive economic growth prospects, as the state is expanding its economic and tax base. Below-average growth, or decline, implies a state's economy may be on a downward trend that could lead to long-term fiscal challenges.