BANGOR, Maine — Maine was one of only three states to see its population decrease in the 15 months from April 2010 to July 2011, according to estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Maine’s population dropped by 173 people from April 2010 to July 2011, largely because of outmigration. The decline appears to be confined to the spring of 2010 as other Census data released Wednesday show that Maine’s population grew by 809 people from July 2010 to July 2011.
This is the first 12-month population increase in Maine in three years, said Joel Johnson, an economist with the State Planning Office. The state lost 919 people from July 2008 to July 2009, and an additional 2,023 people the next year, he said.
As a whole, the U.S. population grew by 2.8 million from April 2010 to July 2011, reaching 311.6 million people. That growth of 0.92 percent was the lowest since the mid-1940s.
“The nation’s overall growth rate is now at its lowest point since before the baby boom,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said in a press release.
Texas gained more people than any other state (529,000), followed by California (438,000), Florida (256,000), Georgia (128,000) and North Carolina (121,000).
Washington, D.C., actually grew at the fastest rate, 2.7 percent. It was the first time the District led states in growth since the early 1940s. The only other states to lose population between April 2010 and July 2011 were Rhode Island (-1,265) and Michigan (-7,448).
The new numbers are the first population estimates released since the official 2010 Census numbers came out last year.
“Our nation is constantly changing and these estimates provide us with our first measure of how much each state has grown or declined in total population since Census Day 2010,” Groves said.
During 2012, the Census Bureau will release 2011 estimates of the total population of counties and incorporated places, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.
From the 2000 Census to 2010, Maine population grew 4.2 percent from 1,274,923 to 1,328,361. The population growth nationwide was more than double at 9.7 percent.
Maine is an old state and as the economy continues to languish, fewer couples are having children, according to Kim Haggan with the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.
But Maine’s birth rate and death rate were nearly identical during the past year, according to Census numbers.
Instead, the loss in population was attributed to people leaving the state. According to the Census data, 1,000 people left Maine, while 819 from other countries came to the state from April 2010 to July 2011. Some of those losses could be connected to the closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station in late May.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.