The South Will Rise Again

U.S. CENSUS
The South will rise again - in a big way
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that by 2030, nearly 40 percent of Americans will call the South their home. And Florida is poised to become the No. 3 state.
By BOB DART
Cox News Service


WASHINGTON - Look out, y'all! Within three decades, nearly four in every ten Americans will be Southerners, the Census Bureau projected Wednesday. Growing like kudzu, the South will have a population of about 143.3 million in 2030. That compares with 92.1 million for the West, 70.5 million for the Midwest and 57.7 million for the Northeast. Percentage-wise, that means 39.4 percent of the populace will live in the South, 25.3 percent in the West, 19.4 percent in the Midwest and 15.9 percent in the Northeast.

THE BIG THREE
Three states -- Florida, California and Texas -- will account for nearly half (46 percent) of U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2030, the Census Bureau projected. Florida, now the fourth-most-populous state, would edge past New York into third place by 2011. California and Texas would continue to rank first and second, respectively, in 2030. The continuing southern population shift will affect everything from politics to religion to cuisine to literature. ''This is probably good news for Republicans,'' said Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta. For more than a century following Reconstruction, the ''Solid South'' referred to the region's Democratic loyalties. But entering the 21st century, the South is solidly in the GOP camp. ''That's the big historical switch,'' Black said. ``It has changed American politics.''

POLITICAL FALLOUT
Adding population faster than other regions, the South picks up congressional seats and presidential electoral votes. ''It means that the Democrats can't afford to position themselves in ways that alienate themselves from Southerners,'' Black said. But it means the notion of what's Southern will undergo dramatic changes, too. ''I foresee an upsurge of immigrant literature in the South,'' said Suzanne Jones, an English professor at the University of Richmond.
In 2000, the Census Bureau found that about 35.6 percent of the population lived in the South -- defined as Georgia, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. About 22.5 percent of the national populace lived in the West -- which includes California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

By 2030, both the South and West will have grown considerably faster than the Midwest and Northeast and have gained a relatively larger share of the population. In 2000, 22.9 percent of the population lived in the Midwest -- defined as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. About 19 percent lived in the Northeast -- defined as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massechusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, & Pennsylvania.

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