U.Va. Releases First National and State Population Projections, Using Latest Census Data

Between now and 2040, the population of the United States will continue to grow and become older and more diverse. But these trends will not be experienced evenly across the nation, according to population projections released by demographers at the University of Virginia. 

The population projections developed by researchers at U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service are the first set prepared for the nation and all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) based on the 2010 Census. The projections suggest changes to be expected in overall population and in subgroups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin between 2020 and 2040.

“While many states, like Virginia, develop state-specific population projections for use in planning and capital outlay decisions, our work provides a fresh analysis of how the demographics of the nation, and each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, may look in the future,” said Qian Cai, director of the Cooper Center’s Demographics & Workforce Group. “Applying a consistent methodology to all states illuminates how population trends such as aging and diversity may vary across the states and foretell challenges at the state level that might be missed in national-level projections.”

The U.S. Census Bureau last issued state projections in 2004 based on 2000 census data, making Cooper Center projections the first publicly available, state-level projections using the more recent 2010 Census data.

Some key findings include:

  • The proportion of the population 65 and older is projected to peak in 2030 and then plateau or decline slightly in most states; yet, in multiple New England states, the older population will become and remain a significant proportion of state residents. Nationally, 18.4 percent of individuals are projected to be 65 or older by 2030; these proportions are projected to be substantially higher in Maine (27 percent), Vermont (25 percent), and New Hampshire (24 percent). Utah, on the other hand, is projected to experience substantially less population aging than other states, with only 12 percent of residents 65 or older by 2030.
  • The proportion of the population that is white is expected to continue to decline, while the category “other race” (including races other than white alone, black alone and Asian alone) is projected to grow substantially, primarily reflecting increases in multi-racial identification and interracial marriage and childbearing, as well as growing Hispanic populations. In some states, including Illinois and New York, the “other race” category is projected to surpass black or African-American as the largest minority racial category by 2040.
  • Continued growth among the Hispanic population is projected over the coming decades, with three states with large Hispanic populations projected to experience crossovers between Hispanic and non-Hispanic majorities: California, Texas and New Mexico are all projected to be majority-Hispanic in the coming decades.

“In many respects, the projections are unsurprising and reflect a continuation of well-established trends,” said Rebecca Tippett, a research associate who prepared the projections. “We have long anticipated aging of the Baby Boomers, and we expect immigration and births to continue to contribute to population growth, albeit at a slower pace than at their height in the mid-2000s. The variation in these trends among the states tells an interesting story about the future of the nation collectively, and the states individually.”

“Age, gender, race and ethnicity are basic building blocks of demography,” Cai said, “but they are more than just categories. Other work by our group has illuminated the impact of these demographic changes on state and national elections and this is just one example of how changing demographics may change the future for the commonwealth and nation.”



Media Contact

Rebecca P. Arrington

Office of University Communications