We all know the United States is a big country, but did you know that the total population is over 300 million people? If you counted up all the U.S. residents living within our borders and overseas, the actual 2020 census-tallied total is 331,108,434. But what are the fastest growing states in America?
From July 2019 to July 2020, the population within the U.S. grew by 1.1 million people, which is small in comparison to other years, but that’s a lot of people.
This huge population is all unevenly spread out across the country, with certain states being more popular than others. We’re on the move though, and the fastest-growing states can change from year to year. Where were we headed recently? Some of the top choices for fastest growing states might surprise you.
The fastest-growing states since 2010
The U.S. Census just released its first population counts for 2020 by state. With these numbers, you can not only see how your state’s totals changed but also which ones gained the highest percentage of population growth. It’s not always the biggest states that are always among the fastest growing states.
To find out more, use this interactive map:
The 10 fastest-growing states
It seems the West and South win for having the fastest-growing states in 2020. Perhaps it’s the call of the sunshine and beaches or the beauty of snow-capped mountains drawing people in, but numbers are changing.
A little over 37 percent of the U.S. resident population live in the five largest states by population, but not all of them made it onto our list. Looks like those biggies have some competition when it comes to new residents.
10. South Carolina
There is a lot to attract new residents to South Carolina. Having seen a population growth of 10.7 percent, one walk along the state’s shoreline could be all it takes to plan a move. With plenty of Southern charm and history, you’ll have no shortage of beaches you can enjoy year-round.
A perfect state to relax in, the pace is slow and friendly. When you need a break from the beach, there are plenty of golf courses to wind down at, not to mention all the shopping, culture and historic tours.
Situated within the intercoastal waterway, there are also plenty of opportunities to catch wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles in their natural habitat as you kayak or paddleboard along.
When it comes to jobs, the major industries within the state include agriculture, aerospace, tourism and more. There’s also opportunity within the automotive and manufacturing industries as well.
The best places to live in South Carolina
Most of the cities in South Carolina, with the largest populations, are near the beach. The laid-back pace and beautiful ocean views are a clear argument for setting up a house near the coast, but the state also offers plenty of activity and amenities as you move inland.
When considering a move to South Carolina, makes sure these popular cities are on your list:
Ample sunshine, desert wildlife, hiking trails and climbable mountains and, of course, the cacti make Arizona a very unique place to call home. The weather gets hot, but the lack of seasons attracts many people looking to relocate from colder climates. In 2020, the state saw its population increase by almost 12 percent.
With a mixed population of college students, retirees, families and singles — there’s really something for everyone in Arizona. Outdoor enthusiasts have no trouble finding a different experience each weekend, while those who like a little luxury in their every day have plenty of options for fine dining, boutique shopping and spa days.
The major industries within the state offer ample work opportunities. Look for jobs in manufacturing, service, tourism and mining.
The best places to live in Arizona
Whether you’re starting at the top of the state or the bottom, Arizona offers up populous cities full of activity and fun. Dispersed throughout the arid and beautiful landscape, these particular cities offer up a solid mix of urban bustle and suburban chill:
There’s no shortage of beach towns from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Ocean when you live in Florida.
People come here to relax and enjoy cities with a thriving nightlife. There are also all those great theme parks that make for a fun day.
With all the activity throughout the state, its eclectic culture and the sunshine, tourism tops the list of industry in Florida. Over 100 million people visit the state each year, which means there is plenty of opportunities to work in this field. Other key industries throughout the state include aerospace, agriculture and exports and international trade.
Florida also has just the right temperature for anybody looking to escape cold days and snowy nights, which is why it saw a population growth of 14.6 percent in 2020. The state attracts a large number of retirees and families who want to live somewhere where they can go outside any day of the year.
The best places to live in Florida
It’s hard to narrow down the best places to live in Florida since most cities offer up at least one attractive amenity. The most popular though include plenty of activity or a lot of beautiful beachfront. Take a look at:
If the Pacific Northwest is calling your name, consider Washington as an ideal home state. It might be the prettiest state in the area. Here, you’ll have amazing natural settings, a thriving economy with a lot of job opportunities and high quality of life.
The state saw its population grow by 14.6 percent in 2020 — in part, thanks to employment opportunities. The tech industry plays a major role in employing locals with companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google in the area. The state is also one of the nation’s largest agricultural producers — don’t forget all the incoming seafood.
With plenty of shorelines, there’s pristine water to set sail in, as well as plenty of busy ports to check out. Get out and enjoy one of the three national parks in this environmentally friendly state. Make sure to visit Mount Rainier too — the hallmark of natural features in Washington.
The best places to live in Washington
The natural beauty that makes up Washington means no matter where you live, there’s no shortage of perfect scenery and outdoor activity. Stick closer to the major cities for more job opportunities, but plan for exploratory weekends to really see what this state has to offer. Here are a few cities especially worth checking out:
When your ideal home has plenty of mountain peaks and opportunities for an active lifestyle full of days skiing — to Colorado you should go. Set within the Rocky Mountains, this rich natural landscape has it all.
As one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Colorado welcomed an additional 14.8 percent of its population to the state in 2020.
The stunning beauty will draw you in, but the job market will encourage you to stay. Top Colorado industries include aerospace, technology, craft beer and cannabis. It’s an eclectic mix that offers up opportunities for small business owners as well as those interested in working for Fortune 500 companies.
With an environment that encourages an active lifestyle and four national parks to explore, residents easily find themselves outside whenever they get the chance. The state isn’t just about skiing though —you’ll also find plenty of spots for rafting, hiking and mountain climbing.
The best places to live in Colorado
Picking a more urban center for your home base in Colorado will in no way detract from your access to nature. Everything is close. You can spend your week working in a vibrant downtown area but immediately hop in the car for a short drive to the mountains once the weekend hits. To find the perfect fit for you in Colorado, start with these popular towns:
Part bright neon lights and strips of casinos, part suburban sprawl and part desert, Nevada is definitely a special place to call home. Another popular state out West, Nevada saw a 15 percent boost to its population in 2020. Attractive factors include an affordable cost of living, job opportunities and bright and sunny weather all year round.
Outstanding natural gems like Red Rock Canyon, Lake Tahoe and the Mojave Desert all rest within Nevada’s borders. They offer up pure beauty in addition to being great getaway spots when a long weekend pops up.
Although the wild activity in Las Vegas may not excite you, the state boasts a large inventory of housing. Residents can pick whether or not they want to live close to a casino even though it’s a major employer in the state.
However, the gambling/entertainment industry isn’t the only place to find a job in Nevada. The state is becoming a beacon for start-ups, especially in the tech industry. It’s also the home to Zappos and where Elon Musk is building a Tesla factory.
The best places to live in Nevada
With Vegas and Reno as the two primary urban centers in the state, most people want to live close, if not within the city limits. This means many more suburban areas close to these cities are attracting a lot of people as well. This combination of locations makes up many of the best places to live in the state, which include:
4. North Dakota
As one of the least-visited states in the country, you might not think North Dakota has a lot to draw people in but in 2020, the state’s population jumped by 15.8 percent. Something is going on here and most of it is happening outdoors.
Head outside and you’ll find national parks, wide, open plains and even the occasional bison. With limited light pollution, you’ll also get a treat each night as you gaze into a sky filled with stars.
Beyond that, it’s the feeling of community that attracts residents. The people here are friendly and kind, making the state very appealing to families.
A leader in agriculture and aerial drone development, there are some interesting job opportunities in North Dakota as well. The state has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country with oil and natural gas also being among the major industries found here.
The best places to live in North Dakota
While some cities have gained more fame than others — yes, Fargo really is in North Dakota — you’ll find plenty of options within this sparsely populated state to call home. Whether you want room to spread out or would like a community that’s closer together, begin your search in these popular cities:
Although it has a reputation, not everything is “bigger in Texas.”
While the state itself is huge, it’s the perfect size to combine a robust history with modern activity and city development, making it a state with something for everyone. Sure, you’ll see cowboy hats and boots. You can go to the rodeo and drive-by plenty of cattle farms, but Texas isn’t all country. Tourism and entertainment both account for the top industries in the state, alongside agriculture and oil and petroleum.
The history of the state is also different. With a heavy influence from its neighbor, Mexico, the state offers up delicious food that’s even become its own cuisine — Tex-Mex. There’s also plenty of history to discover and a strong attachment to the state’s past. Did you know Texas was its own country before joining the United States?
Texas is also a great place for any sports fanatic to consider calling home. Locals love to cheer on a team, whether they’re playing in a stadium or on a high school field. Because it’s such a big state, you get plenty of professional teams to root for.
The culture and vibe within the state are second-to-none — a huge reason the state’s population grew by almost 16 percent in 2020.
The best places to live in Texas
You’ve got your pick as to where to live in Texas. Most cities offer up a great combination of thriving downtown, higher education institutions, solid communities and excellent food and drink. Hit these big areas first for the most options when it comes to finding the right fit for your next home:
Yet another pretty state on our list, Idaho is known as the Gem State for more reasons than one. Yes, you’ll find gemstones here among the natural resources but the beauty of the landscape itself makes Idaho a national gem.
These natural resources are a prime contributor to the local economy. Silver, zinc, lead and lumber all come from Idaho. Mining is also big when it comes to opal, jade, topaz and more. In addition to these economic contributors, you’ll also find a lot of agriculture within the state.
The weather here does offer up a big of the extremes, so if cold isn’t your thing, winter in Idaho is not for you. December temperatures can drop to 24 degrees, although the summer is nice and warm.
Those who don’t mind distinct seasons as much will love the affordable living and spread-out design of the state. Flocks of people are finding Idaho attractive though, as the state saw a population increase of 17.3 percent in 2020.
The best places to live in Idaho
For a taste of natural beauty and a little of those city-living amenities, check out availability in these primary areas of Idaho. Each city offers residents a lot of potential opportunities — from finding a great job to moving into the perfect home.
With the most population growth in the U.S. in 2020, Utah is No. 1 among fastest growing states with an 18.4 percent increase. People are flocking to the state thanks to its increasing job market and high quality of life.
Utah offers many opportunities for big-city living coupled with plenty of skiing too, which doesn’t hurt. It’s also a great place for freelancers to work from home since you can find a great spot — a little way out — for maximum relaxation outside your workspace.
More and more companies within the tech industry are shifting their base of operations to Utah, providing ample jobs and more opportunities. The overall age within the state is also relatively young, so you’ll join working professionals within a community that’s educated and productive.
One of the physical draws to the state is Utah’s mountains. They’re everywhere — so choose your own adventure and go hiking, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, whitewater rafting or skiing. There are also five national parks with plenty of open space to explore.
The best places to live in Utah
There’s not always a lot between major cities in Utah. You will find long, winding roads as you go from city to city, so it’s best to stick close to a major urban center when looking for your next home. Try these thriving cities out first and see what opportunities are available.
State population change since 2010 for fastest growing states
The entire country has seen quite a bit of growth over the last 10 years. Interested in knowing how the population in your home state has changed over the past decade? Check out this chart.