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Washington population growth slowed during last decade, but state is more diversified than in 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb. 23, 2011

OLYMPIA – Washington state population grew by 830,419 during the last decade — to 6,724,540 — according to figures released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington’s 14.1 percent increase from 2000 to 2010 was the slowest rate of growth the state has experienced in five decades.

Still, Washington grew at a faster pace than the nation as a whole, and is now the 13th most- populous state, up from 15th in 2000. Washington’s increased share of the nation’s total population means the state will soon get an additional seat in Congress and qualify for more federal assistance.

The new figures, drawn from the Census Bureau’s 2010 population counts, also show that Washington grew more diversified during the last decade. The state’s Hispanic and Asian American populations grew the fastest.

“Washington state remains a highly desirable place to live — offering a stronger economy, safe communities and an unmatched quality of life,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said. “I’m not surprised by Washington state’s population growth, and welcome the added diversity. And at a critical time in our nation’s history, I also welcome the additional representation in our nation’s Capitol, along with the increase in federal funding to support such critical programs as Medicaid and education.”

Though Washington’s population grew faster than the nation’s, the state’s overall growth slowed from previous decades. The state’s population growth resulting from natural increases (total births minus deaths) remained ready — at around 380,000 during the last decade, but the growth due to net migration declined significantly compared to the 1990s. 

“Far fewer Californians were seeking homes in other Western states during the last decade,” said Yi Zhao, the state’s chief demographer. California lost 1.2 million migrants to other states in the 1990s, but saw a net gain of 240,000 migrants between 2000 and 2010.

Washington’s growing diversity was seen across the state. According to the Census Bureau data, the state’s non-Hispanic white population was 72.5 percent of the total in 2010 — down from nearly 80 percent in 2000. The fastest-growing minority populations during the last decade were Hispanic (which grew by 314,281, or 71.2 percent), followed by Asian (which grew by 156,233, or 48.9 percent) and multiracial (which grew by 71,427, or 40.6 percent).

Population distribution between Western and Eastern Washington remains unchanged with the same 78/22 percent split in place in 2000. However, there is a shift in the rank of fastest-growing counties. Clark County (which grew by 23.2 percent in the last decade) was replaced by Franklin County (which grew by 58.4 percent) as the state’s fastest-growing county. 

The Washington State Office of Financial Management’s Forecasting Division will release detailed analysis of the 2010 Census Data starting Thursday, Feb. 24 at: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/pop/census2010/default.asp.

Contact: Yi Zhao, 360-902-0592