This post is written by Jimmie Covington, veteran Memphis reporter with lengthy experience covering governmental, school, and demographic issues. He is a contributing writer with The Best Times, a monthly news magazine for active people 50 and older.  

By Jimmie Covington

The latest census estimates, for the states, do not look good for Mississippi.

More people are continuing to move out of the state than move in. As a result, the state is continuing to lose residents and for the first time in history has fallen behind Arkansas in population.   It seems like it would be a good idea for Mississippi’s leaders to take a look at what Arkansas is doing to gain more people than it loses.

Tennessee continues to have strong growth. County estimates are not yet available but they are expected to show continued major growth in Middle and East Tennessee with little or no growth in West Tennessee and continuing major movement away from Shelby County.

Here is a piece of mine that’s in the January issue of The Best Times:

Tennessee in 2017 ranked ninth among the nation’s states in population growth numbers while new census estimates show Arkansas with two historic firsts—reaching three million residents and passing Mississippi in size.

More people are continuing to move away from Mississippi than are moving in.

Tennessee had 6,715,984 residents last July 1, a 66,580 increase from July 1, 2016, a 1 percent increase, according to the estimates released Dec. 20. The nation had a 0.7 percent rate.

The state remained the nation’s 16th largest state. A breakdown reflects Tennessee had 81,419 births and 65,544 deaths during the year, a natural increase of 15,875. In net migration, the state gained 10,469 from international movement and 40,232 from domestic movement, a 50,701 increase.

Arkansas grew by 16,048 residents to 3,004,279, a 0.5 percent growth rate. A breakdown shows: 38,236 births and 30,395 deaths, a 7,841 natural increase, plus a net international migration gain of 3,499 and domestic migration gain of 4,718, an 8,217 increase.

The Census Bureau’s July 1, 2016, estimates released in December 2016, continued to show Mississippi slightly ahead with 2,988,726 residents compared to Arkansas’ 2,988,248. However, the revised July 1, 2016, estimates in the 2017 report show Arkansas at 2,988,231 and Mississippi at 2,985,415 on that date.

Each year, new estimates include revised estimates for past years.

Mississippi’s estimate for last July 1 was 2,984,100, a 1,315 drop from the previous July 1. A breakdown shows Mississippi had 37,373 births and 30,875 deaths, a 6,498 natural increase, and a net movement loss of 7,798, resulting from a 2,087 net international gain and a 9,885 net domestic movement loss.

The 2017 report shows Arkansas ranked at 32 in size among states and Mississippi at 34. Nevada also moved ahead of Mississippi to become 33.

The estimates indicate Mississippi has lost population in at least two of the last three years.

Demographers say the yearly estimates are good at reflecting trends and provide valuable information between the federal census counts each 10 years.

The official counts for each state will not occur again until the 2020 Census. Once that census is completed, the annual estimates will be adjusted to be consistent with the 2010 and 2020 Census counts.