Outdoor recreation in a shifting societal landscapeThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
- The South grew considerably faster (32.5 percent) in total population in the 18 years between 1990 and 2008 than the Nation as a whole (22.2 percent). The region has just over half of the country’s non-Hispanic African American population (18.9 million) and is a close second to the Rocky Mountains in both the size and rate of increase of the American Indian population. Since 1990, the South (heavily influenced by Texas and Florida) surpassed the Pacific Coast (strongly influenced by California) in Hispanic population to lead the Nation, with growth especially high in North Carolina and Georgia.
- In the South, the baby boomer generation age groups (44-64 years old) have dominated all others in percent growth since 1990. The South and the Rocky Mountains were the only regions to outpace the national growth rate for every single age group.
- The greatest current density of population for the South is in Florida, in the Piedmont areas of North Carolina to Georgia, and in eastern Texas. Other high-density areas of the South include many of the coastal counties, both on the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Ocean.
- The highest growth in density of population (persons per square mile) has occurred down the Piedmont and Southern Appalachians from North Carolina to Alabama, along the coasts of Florida, and around the major cities of Texas. Some of this growth was substantial and exceeded the U.S. Census Bureau definition of an urban area, 500 persons per square mile. In areas like eastern Texas, higher concentrations of people in places near public lands and bodies of water are likely to put increasing pressures on these limited resources.
- With moderate growth, the population of the United States is projected to exceed 447 million people by 2060, an increase of more than 47 percent. For the same period, projected growth for the South is nearly 60 percent. The Atlantic States area in the South ranks second among its nine U.S. counterparts, at 68 percent forecast increase in population, followed by the Pacific Northwest with 63 percent. Of the 13 Southern States, Florida, Virginia, and Texas are projected to grow faster than the South-wide rate of 59 percent.