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Florida now No. 3 U.S. state in total population

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jan. 5, 2015 – Florida has bested New York in terms of population.

The Sunshine State, averaging 803 new residents a day, is now the third most populous state in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

“It’s an important milestone because it reflects many years of rapid population growth in Florida,” Stan Smith, program director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said in an email. “Population growth is important because it is a major driver of the state’s economic growth and has transformed many aspects of life in Florida.”

The new numbers aren’t surprising. But they help prepare state officials for a wide range of issues, from services needed for elderly residents to the stresses put on the natural environment.

More people also mean a larger congressional delegation. In 1910, New York had 43 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to Florida’s four. Both states now have 27 seats.

“Florida is on the way to become the number one destination for jobs and we continue to be the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to more people and more job creators moving to Florida in the near future.”

Scott has often appeared on national cable news programs telling people to move to Florida. New York was also one of the states in which Scott wrote open letters to business owners in 2012 and 2013 touting the economic benefits of Florida.

As of July 1, there were an estimated 19,893,297 Floridians, compared to 19,746,227 people who called the Empire State home. Between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014, Florida added 293,000 residents, while New York grew by 51,000.

With the U.S. population up 2.4 million to 318.9 million, California remains atop the list of states with 38.8 million residents, followed by the 26.96 million Texans.

Florida, which in 1900 had just over a half million residents, joined the top 10 most-populous states with the 1960 census.

Florida’s 1.5 percent increase over the past year was the fifth-fastest growth rate among the states. The nation’s growth rate advanced at .75 percent the past year.

North Dakota, with a 2.2 percent growth rate, was the nation’s fastest growing, and the only state among the top 10 outside the South or West. Six states had drops in population: Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. Among the top 10 most-populous states, Georgia, eighth on the list, went over the 10 million resident mark with the latest figures. Meanwhile, North Carolina is now in ninth place, moving ahead of Michigan.

Source: News Service of Florida, Jim Turner