WASHINGTON -- Maryland's population rose enough during the past year to create another St. Mary's County -- with a couple thousand people to spare.
The state added another 78,000 residents between April 1990 and July 1991, more than the 75,974 residents who inhabit the Southern Maryland county, according to a Census Bureau report released yesterday.
It was the first census study since the once-a-decade population figures were released by the bureau in April 1990.
Maryland's growth rate during the period was 1.6 percent -- compared with the 1.4 percent increase for the entire country -- for a total population of 4.86 million, the study found.
Virginia grew at the same 1.6 percent rate during the period, adding 99,000 residents for a total population of 6.28 million. Pennsylvania increased by 79,000 residents for a 0.7 percent growth rate and an 11.96 million population. Delaware added 14,000 residents during the 15 months studied for a 2.1 percent growth rate and a total population of 680,000.
Washington lost 1.4 percent of its population -- 9,000 residents -- which left the nation's capital with a population of 598,000.
Maryland's growth was deemed "healthy" by Edwin Byerly, a Census Bureau statistician/demographer who helped to compile the study.
For the past 30 years, the population trend has been the movement to the West and South, and that is continuing into the 1990s. The study found that 2.7 million of the 3.5 million population increase between April 1990 and July 1991 took place in these two regions.
Nevada was the nation's fastest growing state during the period, growing by 6.8 percent or by 82,000 people. Alaska came next with 3.7 percent, followed by Idaho (3.2 percent), Washington (3.1 percent), Oregon (2.8 percent), Utah (2.7 percent), Florida (2.6 percent), Colorado (2.5 percent), Hawaii (2.4 percent) and Arizona (2.3 percent).
Three states lost population since the 1990 census. North Dakota dropped 0.7 percent or 4,000 people,followed by New Hampshire (-0.4 percent or 5,000 residents) and Massachusetts (-0.3 percent or 20,000 people).
Population growth in New England has stalled like the region's economy. During the period there were virtually no population gains in Rhode Island (0.1 percent or 1,000 people) and Connecticut (0.1 percent or 4,000 people), while only small increases were recorded in Maine (0.5 percent or 7,000 residents) and Vermont (0.7 percent or 4,000 people).
During the 1980s, the Northeast had been the third-fastest growing region behind the South and West.
"I was a bit surprised that New England has slowed down as much as it has," Mr. Byerly said, noting that through 1988 New Hampshire was the fastest growing state in the Northeast.