Vermont's population holds steady

By:  Gordon Dritschilo
Rutland Herald

Vermont hasn't gotten much bigger.

The Green Mountain State remained firmly ensconced in its place at number 49 in the list of states by population when the U.S. Census Bureau released its 2009 state population estimates Wednesday.

With an estimated 621,760 as of July 1, Vermont's population went up 711 from last year — about a tenth of a percent — and 12,939 or 2.1 percent since April 2000.

The longer-term increase came from births (a net increase of about 12,000 after subtracting deaths) and international migration (about 5,000) as Vermont took a net loss of about 1,000 in people moving from state to state.

The report said the total net change also includes a "change in population that cannot be attributed to any specific demographic component."

Vermont's migration trends reflect those of the Northeast as a whole, which lost a net of 2.5 million people to other parts of the country over the decade. The Midwest also shed population to other states while the South and West showed net gains.

Vermont ranked 45th in proportionate population change since 2000, coming in ahead of only West Virginia, Rhode Island, Ohio, North Dakota, Michigan and Louisiana. In total population, Vermont was ahead of only Wyoming and the District of Columbia — included in the rankings though not a state.

Nevada saw the greatest proportionate growth while Texas saw the greatest total growth. California remains the most populous state, with almost 37 million.

Looking at the rest of New England, Massachusetts remains the most populous state with just under 6.6 million residents. Connecticut is second with 3.5 million, followed by Rhode Island at 1.1 million. Vermont remains at the bottom of the list.

Massachusetts and New Hampshire each illustrate two national trends, according to University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson said.

New Hampshire traditionally has relied on a substantial flow of people from Massachusetts to fuel its population growth, but over the last several years, migration from Massachusetts to New Hampshire has declined by 34 percent.

Massachusetts joins other states that traditionally lost population to elsewhere in the country and are now gaining residents. As late as 2005, Massachusetts had 60,000 more people move out of state than moved in. This year, there were 3,600 more new arrivals than departures.

New Hampshire, like other recent high-growth states such as Florida and Nevada, no longer benefits from that migration, Johnson said.

"So you can see sort of both sides of the story in the two states and the exchange between them," Johnson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.