RI population grows for fourth year in a row

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The nation’s smallest state just got a little more crowded.

Rhode Island’s state population grew for the fourth straight year in 2015, according to new U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

The number of Rhode Island residents ticked up to 1,056,298 as of July 1, an increase of 1,391 compared with 2014, and up by 3,731 since the last official Census was conducted by the federal government in 2010.

However, the small overall increase masked a more significant shift around who lives in Rhode Island.

Net migration to Rhode Island was slightly positive in 2015, as the net arrival of 4,727 international migrants was nearly offset by the net departure of 4,693 domestic residents. There were also 10,984 births and 9,533 deaths in the state during the 12 months ended July 1.

The Census Bureau’s definition of international migrants includes “all foreign-born immigrants and emigrants, regardless of legal status.” It also covers migration between Rhode Island and Puerto Rico, and the movement of military members.

By adding residents in 2015, Rhode Island avoided being one of the nine states that lost population over that period, which included three of the six New England states: Connecticut, Vermont and Maine.

Rhode Island ranked 43rd among the states by population size as of this year, though Montana appears to be on pace to pass Rhode Island in population sometime in the next few years.

The Massachusetts population also grew in 2015, adding about 39,000 residents to reach 6.76 million. The population of the United States rose to 321.4 million, with the most populous states being California (39 million), Texas (27.5 million), Florida (20.3 million) and New York (19.8 million).

The state with the fastest population growth was once again North Dakota, which has been adding residents quickly amid a boom in fossil-fuel exploration. Its population rose by 2.3% to 756,927.Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He hosts Executive Suite and writes The Saturday Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter: @tednesi

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