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Ga. ranked fastest growing state in Southeast

   ATLANTA — Georgia’s population grew by more than 200,000 this year and ranked as the fastest growing state in the Southeast, according to new Census Bureau state population estimates released Thursday.
    The influx helped Georgia rank fifth nationally, growing 2.2 percent to about 9.5 million as of July 2007. The population the previous year was 9.3 million.
    The figures confirmed U.S. population trends that show the fastest-growing states continue to be in the Rocky Mountain region and the Southeast.
    Nevada regained the title of fastest-growing state, having increased in population by 2.9 percent to 2.6 million. Nevada had held that title for 19 years in a row before being bumped off by Arizona last year. Arizona is the second-fastest-growing state according to the current estimate, with a population increase of 2.8 percent to 6.3 million.
    Utah and Idaho ranked third and fourth, and Georgia followed in fifth, leading the states in the Southeast. North Carolian and Texas ranked sixth and seventh, and South Carolina followed in 10th.
    Florida’s population, meanwhile, continued to grow but at a slower rate than usual, increasing by 1.1 percent to 18.3 million.
    Only two states lost population. Michigan’s population dipped by three-tenths of a percent and Rhode Island saw a decrease of four-tenths of a percent. Ohio’s growth was virtually flat.
    The Constitution requires the Census Bureau to count the population every 10 years, and the results are used to allocate seats in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as electoral votes.
    The bureau will release county population breakdowns in the spring, which should give a clearer indication of where the state’s newest residents are moving.
    This year’s state population estimates are consistent with previous years that show high-growth states like Texas and Georgia could likely gain seats in Congress, while slow-growth states such as Ohio will likely lose seats.

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