The very first sentence of Washington State’s just-released summary of state population trends: “Washington State population begins to improve.”
What the state Office of Financial Managment (which estimates population trends for the state) means, of course, is that Washington’s population grew last year. And that it grew a little bit more last year than the year before. It grew by 1.1 percent in the 12 months ending March 31, up from 0.9 percent in the preceding 12 months. This is taken as a sign of a recovering economy. (We have our doubts about how meaningful most of measures of “recovering economy” really are—but that’s the subject for another day, or days.)
The text gets even more boosterish towards population growth:
Washington State’s growth—reflecting the improving economy…may just be the beginning of a solid rebound…The state appears to be in a good position to continue gaining in population.
Population growth is not an unmitigated good but a mixed blessing. Along with new people come not just more money but also new infrastructure demands and environmental burdens. And some share of growth is a reflection not of a “rebounding economy” but of a stubbornly high rate of accidental pregnancies. Last year, almost half of the state’s growth came from births, not migration; two in five of those births were the result of unplanned pregnancies.