The U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday the changes in resident population for each U.S. state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico since 2010, gathered from the 2020 Census.
The data is vital for determining the number of House of Representative seats each state receives. But where the population moves is also an indication, to some extent, of the future of the economy.
Raising $4.6 Million From Idaho
In 2019, Monte Keleher moved his family and his Silicon Valley startup to Boise, Idaho from San Francisco, California, the city where he resided for 20 years and the state where he lived his whole life. He and his wife wanted to be closer to family — her family is from the area — and provide their young kids a more outdoor-oriented childhood than the Bay Area could offer.
He co-founded Fitted a year prior, a startup that helps retail businesses navigate their online platforms. He wanted a better shot at scaling up quickly. “We knew that wouldn’t be in the land of giants over in Silicon Valley,” he said in March. “So we decided, well, Boise is up and coming, and it’s a great place to live.” Fitted has raised $4.6 million in funding so far.
As in so many facets of life, the pandemic accelerated a trend already in motion.
In the decade after the Great Recession, big cities and the software industry were the locus of economic energy. The Brookings Institute found that just five top innovation metro areas—Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego—accounted for more than 90% of the nation’s innovation-sector growth during the years 2005 to 2017.
But in recent years, innovators have been leaving behind the populated city life in places such as San Francisco and New York City for states with more outdoor activities and a cheaper cost of living, such as Idaho, Texas and Florida, all of which saw percent increases of population on the larger end. The high-growth states are also home to many new entrepreneurial hubs, including Miami and Austin, and those that are emerging, such as Tampa, Fla., and Boise.
“The shifts, as we’re seeing, is away from a lot of what we think of as traditional metro areas where half the net entrepreneurial starts have come from over the last several years, and towards areas that perhaps were looked over or forgotten,” said Victor Hwang, the founder of Right to Start, an initiative pushing for policy to increase access to entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship has struggled in the areas where many people are moving, he said. Plus, a large number of people moving to the areas seeing population growth are young and immigrants. “There’s going to be a real question of how do we increase access for people to be able to pursue their dreams and build their businesses in these geographies, which have actually been falling behind in that over the last several years?”
Texas gained the most residents numerically, its population increasing by nearly 4 million people, according to the release. Meanwhile, Utah’s population grew the fastest, up 18.4% from its 2010 population. Idaho, Nevada and North Dakota also saw large percent increases in residents. California remains the most populated state in the country. Texas will get two more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will receive one more each. Meanwhile, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will lose one seat each.
The apportionment likely won’t affect innovation policy, since conversations about entrepreneurship tend to be bipartisan, Hwang said — on the right, it’s about individual freedom and empowerment, and on the left, it’s about lifting up those left out on the margins. “These issues matter, because they’re American issues, not because they’re left or right issues.”
Will Recreation Replace Consumption As A Driver?
As meeting spots turned into Zoom calls that could take place from anywhere, more people are putting energy into reconfiguring their lives.
The Great Flight out of cities may be accompanied by a surge in entrepreneurship, as people find themselves with more time and money on their hands, and a new way of looking at the world. Americans submitted the largest number of business applications during the third quarter last year since the Census Bureau began tracking the data in 2004. Time will tell if it’s an indicator of a true boom or a mere trend.
The trends driving the flight from big cities could also shape the kinds of innovations and companies that emerge in the next decade. Recreation may be replacing consumption as a driving force in what people want to spend money on. It’s an appeal Boise offers in abundance– Tiam Rastegar, the executive director of Trailhead, a group that was created as a spot for Boise entrepreneurs to gather and collaborate, describes the area as an “outdoor heaven,” with easy access to winter spots such as skiing or snowboarding and summer sports such as biking, hiking, parasailing, ziplining and white water rafting.