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Rocky Mountain high: Utah and its neighbors see big population gains

WASHINGTON Restaurateurs looking for booming states to tackle should look toward Utah, according to U.S. population-growth estimates released Monday.

Utah’s population grew 2.5 percent to 2.7 million from July 1, 2007, to July 1 of this year, making it the country’s fastest-growing state, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

Arizona was the second-fastest growing, increasing 2.3 percent between 2007 and 2008. Texas, North Carolina and Colorado completed the top five, each with a growth rate of 2.0 percent. Nevada, which had been among the four fastest-growing states each of the last 24 years, grew 1.8 percent and ranked eighth in the most recent period.

In sheer numbers, Texas’ gain of 484,000 people in the 2007-2008 period put it at the top. It was followed by California, with a gain of 379,000; then North Carolina, with 181,000; Georgia, with 162,000; and Arizona, with 147,000.

Only two states lost population: Michigan’s population declined 0.5 percent, losing 46,000 people; and Rhode Island’s fell 0.2 percent, losing 2,000.

California remained the most populous state, with about 36.8 million people on July 1. Rounding out the top five states were Texas, with 24.3 million; New York, with 19.5 million; Florida, with 18.3 million; and Illinois, with 12.9 million.

Other highlights: Six of the 10 fastest-growing states from 2007 to 2008 were in the Rocky Mountains, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Three others were on the South Atlantic coast, including Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The West was the fastest-growing region, growing 1.4 percent between 2007 and 2008; but the South added the highest number of people, 1.4 million, during the period.

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