Fewer Deaths, More Migration Make U.S. Population Soar

The number of people living in the country has returned to pre-pandemic levels. These are the states benefiting the most.

The U.S. gained more than 1.6 million people in 2023, with most states reporting population growth, according to data from the Census Bureau. The U.S. population saw its largest increase since 2018 due to fewer deaths, which were elevated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and rising migration, researchers say.  

The states seeing the largest population growth are Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, census data shows. The South already is the nation’s most populous region before factoring in migration trends, Anat Nusinovich, an economist with the National Association of REALTORS®, says at the association’s Economists’ Outlook blog.

On the other hand, the states with the lowest population growth were New York, California and Illinois, which saw a decrease in domestic migration, Nusinovich says. However, those states did gain residents moving from international locations. Global real estate buyers often choose to live in larger states, but affordability in these locales is hampering domestic moves.

“Most Americans chose to move to a state where they could afford to purchase a home, even if that meant fewer employment opportunities,” Nusinovich writes in a separate study on migration trends.

Late last year, NAR evaluated 100 of the largest U.S. metro areas to identify the markets with the largest pool of potential home buyers, the greatest likelihood for home price appreciation and more. NAR identified the following markets as having the most pent-up housing demand for this year:

  • Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
  • Dayton-Kettering, Ohio
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas
  • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md.
  • Portland-South Portland, Maine
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Va.-Md.-W.V.