By Aaron Earls
“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”
While not its intent, Benjamin Franklin’s quote may apply to reasons for the continued population growth in southern states.
From July 2016 to July 2017, births outnumbered deaths in the region by more than 500,000, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition, 350,000 Americans moved to the South from other regions, in part because of the lower cost of living—including more affordable housing, growing job market, and lower taxes.
Combining those numbers with international immigration, the South grew by more people (1.24 million) than the rest of the U.S. combined (1.08 million).
Six of the 10 states with the most numerical growth over the last year are in the South, according to the Census Bureau.
Top 10 states in numerical growth from 2016 to 2017:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
California actually lost people in terms of domestic migration. More American residents left the state than moved to it. Its growth came from births and international immigration.
The top 10 states in percentage growth were mostly Western states with a couple of Southern states and the nation’s capital.
- District of Columbia
While the South continues to grow in population, it remains the most evangelical region in the country.
Among evangelicals by belief, 55 percent live in the South. Almost half of self-identified evangelicals (48 percent) call the South home as well, according to Lifeway Research.
The five states with the highest percentage of evangelicals, according to Pew Research, are also all in the South—Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
This growth in the Bible belt provides churches with opportunities to reach unchurched and dechurched individuals.
In a study on unchurched Americans, Lifeway Research found 79 percent don’t mind if a friend talks about their faith and 55 percent say a personal invitation from a friend or family member would be effective in getting them to visit church.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.