- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

The United States grew more between 1990 and 2000 than in any previous decade. Every state and the biggest cities got bigger. And now four-fifths of the population is urban.

What's more, the Census Bureau reported yesterday, in its first demographic analysis of Census 2000 data, that the U.S. population center has shifted again. It's now located in Phelps County, Mo., near tiny Edgar Springs (population 190). That's 34.7 miles west of its previous center near Steelville, Mo. Steelville is roughly 75 miles southwest of St. Louis.

The population center is the point where the nation would balance if it were perched on an imaginary flat, rigid map and its 281,421,906 residents all weighing the same amount were scattered around it. In 1790 that spot was in Kent County, Md., near Chestertown, 23 miles east of Baltimore.

The Census Bureau's chief demographer, John Long, said at a press briefing that, "one of the major changes" the census reveals is that the U.S. "population is growing faster than anyone thought it would and faster than it has grown in several decades."

The 13.2 percent population gain between 1990 and 2000 represents the addition of 32.7 million people, the largest census-to-census increase in American history. It surpasses by 4.7 million the huge "baby boom" population bulge of 1950-1960.

The strongest growth once again occurred in the nation's West and South.

The West gained 10.4 million persons (19.7 percent). About 63.2 million persons now live there. The South added 14.8 million persons (17.3 percent). It is now the home of 100.2 million persons.

More than 4.7 million persons moved to the Midwest, giving the region a 7.9 percent increase and bringing its total population to 64.4 million while the Northeast added 2.8 million for a 5.5 percent increase. That brought its population to 53.6 million.

The new census figures show that the New York area, which includes northern New Jersey, Long Island and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, still reigns as the most populous metro area. It has 21,199,865 persons.

The Los Angeles metro area is second with 16,373,645 persons spread throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties.

The Chicago metroplex stretches from nearby Kenosha, Wis., through Chicago to Gary, Ind., and has 9,157,540 persons. That puts it in third place just ahead of the Washington-Baltimore area, which takes in part of Virginia and is now home to 7,608,070 persons.

Las Vegas was the fastest-growing metro area in the decade. It grew by 83 percent and now has 1,563,282 persons. Naples, Fla., (251,377), grew 65 percent, the second-fastest growth rate.

Other rapidly growing metro areas are Yuma and Phoenix, Ariz.; McAllen, Allen and Laredo, Texas; Fayetteville, Ark. and Boise city, Idaho.

Eighty percent of the U.S. population that's 226,000,000 Americans live in metro areas today, up from 198,400,000 in 1990.

Within those metro areas, the 10 largest U.S. cities in 1990 are still the largest, with New York's 8,008,278 leading the pack. Behind it comes Los Angeles (3,694,820), Chicago (2,896,016) and Houston (1,953,631).

Of the 10 largest cities, only Philadelphia, the fifth largest, and Detroit, the 10th largest, lost residents in the decade.

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