Arizona, Nevada and Idaho had the fastest-growing populations between July 2005 and July 2006, while Louisiana lost nearly 5 percent of its pre-Hurricane Katrina population during the period, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

Almost all of the top 10 fastest-growing states were in the South or Southwest: Arizona (3.6 percent), Nevada (3.5 percent), Idaho (2.6 percent), Georgia (2.5 percent), Texas (2.5 percent), Utah (2.4 percent), North Carolina (2.1 percent), Colorado (1.9 percent), Florida (1.8 percent) and South Carolina (1.7 percent).

The Northeast grew by only 62,000 people, while the South picked up 1.5 million residents and the West 1 million. North Carolina replaced New Jersey as the 10th most populous state, and the South now accounts for 36 percent of the nation’s total population, followed by the West at 23 percent, the Midwest at 22 percent and the Northeast at 18 percent.

Louisiana, which had grown to 4.5 million residents by July 1, 2005, was hit by Hurricane Katrina the next month and lost nearly 220,000 people over the next year, the Census Bureau reported.

In terms of raw numbers, Texas gained the most people (579,275), followed by Florida (321,697), California (303,402), Georgia (231,388), Arizona (213,311), North Carolina (184,046), Washington (103,899), Colorado (90,082), Nevada (83,288) and Tennessee (83,058).

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