Florida’s population will exceed that of New York sometime in February, according to Census Bureau estimates, making the Sunshine State the third-most populous U.S. state. The change underscores a decadeslong shift in population and political clout from Northeastern to Southern and Western “Sun Belt” states, Bloomberg reported.

As of July 1, New York’s population stood at 19.65 million, while Florida’s stood at 19.55 million — but Florida’s population is growing faster than its northern counterpart.

The real estate crash that devastated Florida’s economy kept the state from overtaking New York sooner, William Frey, a demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told the paper.

Florida “is starting to come out of it, but it’s taken its time, so I think it surprises a lot of people that New York is still ahead,” Frey said.

The Sun Belt includes “places that are newer, have more opportunities for job growth and are less costly to live,” he added.

California and Texas are the first- and second-most populous states in the country with 38.33 million people and 26.45 million people, respectively, as of July 1.

Source: Bloomberg

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