Michael Barone: Census Data Show Small-Government States Thriving

Monday, 20 Jan 2014 10:10 PM

By Elliot Jager

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While the overall economic environment has kept the U.S. population mostly stagnant and its geographic mobility generally lethargic, an analysis of census data shows that states that are less dependent on government are bucking the trend, says nationally syndicated columnist Michael Barone.

"Population growth has been accelerating in states that depend heavily on the private sector and declining in states with relatively high dependence on government," Barone writes.

The population of Texas grew 5.2 percent between 2010 and 2013 largely as a consequence of comparatively high birth rates and high domestic in-migration.

Texas has also been helped by the shale boom as well as by a diversified economy that has attracted high-tech jobs from California.

"Texas' public policies — low taxes, light regulation— have clearly paid off," Barone writes.
Among the small-government states with robust population growth are North Dakota, partly an effect of its Bakken shale oilfields.

Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada have also seen population growth, as have South Dakota, Nebraska, and Minnesota.

In the Great Lakes region, Indiana is a standout, with growth also reported in Ohio and Michigan.

Illinois is the Great Lakes exception because it is burdened by high taxes, big-government obligations, and poor public policy, Barone writes.

Rhode Island continues to be a population loser and ranks sixth among states with the highest taxes.

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