Washington state just came out with new estimates of population increase in the state, breaking down the share of growth in recent years that resulted from migration (in-migrants minus out-migrants) vs. natural increase (births minus deaths).

Overall, the state saw a significant uptick in net migration in 2005. From 2000 through 2004, the net inflow of new residents from outside the state had slowed quite a bit, compared with the late 1980s thorugh mid 1990s—when in-migration was red-hot. Now, after a cooling-off period, it seems that the state is attracting legions of new residents again.

Also interesting to note: after roughly a decade in which the total number of births remained fairly stable, births are on the upswing again, reaching their highest level ever in 2005. (See the blue line on the right). The period of relative stability in the number of births was, in a way, a fluke—boomers were moving past their reproductive peak as the relatively small “baby bust” generation entered their prime childbearing years. So even as pouplation grew, the number of births didn’t.

Now, the “echo boom” generation—the children of the boomers—are entering their reproductive peak. And we’re seeing the fruits, so to speak, right now: more babies born than ever.

At the same time, natural increase (births minus deaths—the pink line in the chart) went up by a much smaller amount. The number of deaths is rising along with the number of births, as boomers inch closer to retirement.

It’ll be interesting to see if these two trends keep cancelling one another out. Natural increase has been a surprisingly constant force in the state’s population trends—the slow-steady tortoise, compared with the on-again, off-again hare of migration.

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