July 1, 2009

State population nears 6.7 million, but growth rate is slowing

By Randy Hodgins

The Office of Financial Management (OFM) has released its annual population estimate and it shows a slowing growth rate.  Chief demographer Theresa Lowe pegs the state population at 6,668,020, with the growth rate slowing to 1.2% per year (down from the 2006 high of 1.9%).  As with everything else these days, the economy is the main reason:

“The continued housing contraction nationwide and poor economic conditions appear to be limiting the mobility of the population usually influenced by labor market opportunities,” Lowe said. “Many job seekers are finding it difficult to sell their homes or to relocate to accept employment at the price of paying two mortgages for an extended period.”

Basic market forces throughout the United States have also reduced immigration, and have resulted in many resident and situational immigrants returning home. Washington has relatively large Hispanic and Asian populations, ranking seventh among the states in the number of Asians and 13th in the number of Hispanic/Latinos. The large in and out flows associated with these populations are affected by present economic conditions, another factor resulting in the slowdown of state growth.

The annual population determinations by OFM are based on actual change in school enrollment, housing, voters, driver’s licenses and other indicator data, and are used to distribute revenues to local governments for public services and transportation. These annual figures are also used to develop and validate population forecasts, which help to anticipate changes in population-driven budget expenditures.

You can read more about the OFM report here.

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