Maryland's population grows 9%

About 480,000 more people live in Maryland now than did 10 years ago.

So says the Census Bureau, which released Census 2010 figures showing that Maryland's growth rate was 9 percent over the decade -- lower than the '90s and '80s but higher than the '70s.

The United States posted slightly faster growth than the state, at 9.7 percent, but its rate was the slowest since the '30s. Considering the recession that officially ended last year was the worst since the Great Depression, that makes some sense.

"The slow population growth witnessed over the past decade is attributed to slowing immigration from abroad, both legal and undocumented," Wells Fargo economists Mark Vitner and Joe Seydl said in a research note. "Over the past decade, a weakening employment picture in the United States was the primary catalyst for slower immigration."

Maryland is still attracting immigrants. And it's also gaining newcomers via BRAC, the base realignment and closure effort.

If you want to sell a home, growth is good. (The population in hard-hit Michigan shrank during the last decade.) But some portion of the 480,000 new people have already bought homes, of course -- they didn't all get here last week. (Some of the newbies didn't relocate here at all in the traditional sense but, rather, were born here.)

What would be really interesting to know is this: How many Americans would have moved to a different state in the last few years if they could?

Nevada grew 35 percent during the decade, fastest among the states. But it also has the nation's highest unemployment rate, worse even than No. 2 Michigan. So what gives? A lot of people moved in when the economy was good, and now folks in that bubble-bust state are stuck in underwater homes, unable to relocate. It's a problem playing out in a variety of communities.

Do you think Maryland, with its lower-than-average unemployment rate, would see more growth if people weren't constrained by their homes?

Or less?

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