When the 2013 census results are revealed on Monday, Florida is expected to edge out New York as the third most populous state. The population gap between New York and Florida has been closing quickly over the past few years, but the ranking swap could still signify changes ahead for both states.
According to The New York Times, the new census figures reflect the trend of migrants born outside the U.S. making their way toward sunnier states, like California, Texas — the top two most populous states — and Florida. The Times reports that roughly 50,000 New Yorkers move to Florida each year, compared with only 25,000 Floridians who come to New York. Though New York state's population is still growing, it is far outpaced by Florida growth. And upstate New York is largely economically stagnant, while cities like Tampa and Jacksonville flourish.
A larger population can dictate a state's future, in addition to simply reflecting its current circumstance. It means a larger chunk of the federal government's money and more political representation. The New York Times explains:
The changing population pattern could have many practical and political implications, including diminished congressional delegations, a setback New York already suffered in 2010 — the year of the last decennial census count — when the state lost two districts, while Florida gained two seats. Census data also inform how billions of dollars in federal funding and grants are divvied up among the states, for things like highway planning and construction, public aid for housing and health care and education programs.
This could become a political point of contention for Democrats, wary of giving more power to the "stand your ground" state. The Times goes on to explain that bigger does not always mean better, however:
While politicians might welcome the larger tax bases that come with bigger populations, demographers say a need for more services increases. More populous places also have more congestion on highways and more wear-and-tear on public spaces.
Last year, the least populous states were Vermont and Wyoming.