Population statistics count for a lot in American life. Real estate firms love tracking this data to find the best investment markets. Politically, state populations can shift presidential elections.
moveBuddha recently projected the most populated American cities for 2100, and there was no surprise that Texas cities like Austin, Dallas, and Houston dominated the list.
We revisited this topic for the most populated states by 2100 – and once again, the future looks bright for The Lone Star State. moveBuddha estimates that Texas will be the #1 most populous state by 2100, followed by Florida, California, Georgia, and North Carolina, respectively.
America will look much different in 2100. We don’t know how climate change will affect migration patterns, and we don’t know the effects of new technologies. Migration patterns are hard to predict; they change quickly. Just look at the impact of the pandemic and remote work.
But moveBuddha crunched the numbers and gave our estimates - and we think by the year 2100, Texas will wear the crown as the most populated state.
- Texas’ future is bright. #1 Texas will be by far the most populous state in 2100, with a projected population of nearly 96 million. Compared to 2023, the Lone Star State’s population will swell by a staggering 213.8%.
- The South keeps rising. Along with Texas, #4 Georgia, #5 North Carolina, and #10 Virginia will all see significant gains in population by 2100. Southwestern #8 Arizona will also enter the top 10 most populated American states.
- Head West, young man. #16 Utah will see the most significant growth of any state compared to 2023, jumping 14 spots in the rankings of most populous states. Other Western states seeing enormous growth are #24 Idaho, #9 Colorado, and #23 Nevada.
- Illinois blues. #18 Illinois is expected to see the most significant population decline, falling 12 spots in the rankings compared to 2023 and losing nearly 2 million in population.
Will Texas’ growth ever slow down?
Texas’ booming population growth has been a big story for a while. The state’s population has swelled for decades, fueled by domestic migration and a natural increase (the differences between births and deaths).
The Lone Star State has also become more diverse. People of color have fueled 95% of Texas’ growth between 2010 and 2020.
moveBuddha estimates the Texas growth story will continue by 2100, making it the most populated American state and dethroning California, which has had problems with retaining residents in recent years.
Texas’ large land mass means it may be able to support our estimate of a staggering 95.7 million residents by 2100.
But this type of growth comes with challenges. Large Texas metropolitan areas like Dallas, Austin, and Houston will have to build much more infrastructure and combat the same big-city problems like crime and expensive housing that have made Americans move from places like Chicago and New York City.
And then there’s climate change. A recent moveBuddha study showed that five of America’s fastest-warming cities are in Texas. By 2100, the effects of climate change could be much worse, including in cities like Houston, which has the growing threats of sea-level rise, fiercer hurricanes, and rising temperatures.
Can the Texas growth story continue? Probably. But there will likely be growing pains for the Lone Star State in the decades ahead.
A grim future for Illinois
Illinois is currently the sixth most populated state, but moveBuddha doesn’t think that high ranking will last for long. We project Illinois’s ranking to plummet 12 spots by 2100 and the state to lose 1.9 million people by then. That equates to a -15.2% population change.
Why is Illinois struggling so much? Experts say residents are leaving the state in droves to head to other states with better business climates, lower taxes, and places where government finances are better. Illinois has among the highest tax burdens in America, which could be pricing residents out.
Statewide, Illinois’ population decline has been driven almost entirely by people moving out. Of the 91 Illinois counties that lost population, 80 of them also experienced domestic outmigration. Yikes.
It’s not just people leaving Illinois, either. Many major corporations have been leaving the state for a long time and relocating their headquarters elsewhere. These companies are taking their tax revenues and workers with them.
If Illinois wants to turn things around, the state and local governments must devise better economic policies, including lower taxes, to keep people around.
Other states predicted to drop in the rankings for most populated U.S. states include Missouri, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, and Connecticut.
Welcome to the New South
The American South has long been a place associated with poverty and other social ills. But that’s starting to change. By 2100, moveBuddha estimates that five of the top 10 most populated American states will be in the South, including Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the South added more than 1.3 million residents in 2022 alone. moveBuddha expects this trend to continue, with states like Georgia and North Carolina increasing their population by 112% or more by the end of the century.
The South is adding residents for various reasons, but climate could be a driving factor. Many Americans are leaving large cities and cold-weather states for less congested places and warmer climates, especially for the winter months. Other factors are housing affordability, lower taxes, and the Baby Boomer generation's retirement.
Will the South keep growing this century? Hotter temperatures and more natural disasters like hurricanes could get in the way, especially in Florida. But where things stand now, the future looks bright for the “New South.”
Ranking All 50 States by 2100 Population Estimates
Looking at the projected population growth of all 50 states, we see a continuation of many trends happening nationally. Pro-business, low-tax states like Texas, Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina should see robust growth. Meanwhile, the opposite is true for states like New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Texas, Florida, and America in 2100
moveBuddha doesn’t have a crystal ball, but we have data methodologies that can help us forecast the population growth of all 50 states.
If current trends hold, Texas will be the center of American life, California will no longer be the most populated state, and Americans will continue to flock to warmer-weather states in the South and the Sunbelt.
Some Western states like Utah, Nevada, and Idaho are also expected to see strong population growth. All this change will reconfigure American life in a big way - from the makeup of the Electoral Map to the centers of economic activity.
Factors like climate change could change migration trends, as many expect. And there’s always the possibility of unforeseen factors that could throw a wrench in the growth plans of states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia.
For now, we might have to get used to the Lone Star and Sunshine states wielding the most power on a state level in American life.
This report uses data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. We examined all U.S. states and calculated their annual compound population growth rates between 1910 and 2023.
We extrapolated the annual compound growth rates for all states from 1910 to 2023 to estimate the total state populations for 2100.
We used the Exponential Growth Model for these calculations. This model offers a straightforward approach to estimating populations, particularly in scenarios where historical data is limited or a constant growth rate is assumed, thus providing crucial insights for policy and planning decisions amidst data constraints.
- Initial data and historical growth rates are sourced from reliable entities like governmental agencies or international organizations, though inconsistent or scarce data can pose challenges.
- Despite its simplifying assumption of a constant growth rate and not accounting for environmental carrying capacities, this model serves as a useful starting point for understanding population growth trends and can pave the way for more nuanced models as more data becomes available.
Unless otherwise indicated, state-specific data was sourced from:
Members of the media with questions about this report or who would like to cover it can contact:
Communications Manager, moveBuddha
Email: [email protected]
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