WASHINGTON — State and local governments will be able to issue a total of $32.821 billion of private-activity bonds under a national volume cap next year — 1.2% or $379.96 million more than in 2011.

The increase is based on the latest population figures released Wednesday by the Census Bureau and a new PAB cap formula published by the Internal Revenue Service.

Overall, the U.S. population, including Puerto Rico, grew by 2.8 million, reaching 315.3 million between April 2010 and July 2011, according to Census Bureau estimates.

That 0.90% increase is among the lowest during the past seven decades. The 2011 population estimates are the first state numbers released since the 2010 count in April 2010.

The formula for determining the caps — $95 per capita or $284.56 million, which ever is greater — was released by the Internal Revenue Service in November in Revenue Procedure 2011-52.

The per capita rate did not change from last year, but the minimum amount, which is used by states with low population figures, rose to $284.56 million from $277.82 million.

The higher population figures and minimum amount in the formula will raise the national private-activity bond cap to $32.821 billion in 2012 from $32.441 billion in 2011.

States rarely issue the maximum amount of PAB caps they receive for a given year and are permitted to carry forward unused amounts for three years.

All of the state caps will be higher in 2012, with the exception of Michigan and Puerto Rico, according to current population estimates and the IRS formula.

Twenty states show the highest cap growth of 2.4%, which pales in comparison to last year where eight states showed caps that jumped 7% or more. Eighteen states show cap growth of just under 1% for 2012.

Michigan’s PAB volume cap will decrease by 0.1% to $938.238 million in 2012 from $938.946, erasing its 4.6% gain from last year.

The Census Bureau estimates that the state’s population will decline to 9.876 million from 9.883 million in the previous year. 

Puerto Rico’s PAB volume cap will decline of 0.5% to $352.136 million, after falling 0.9% last year.

California, the most populous state, has the largest PAB cap, which is expected to rise 1.2% to $3.580 billion in 2012 from $3.539 billion in 2011.

Texas has the second highest cap at $2.439 billion, which is a 2.1% gain from 2011.

The District of Columbia grew faster than any state in the country, surging by 2.7% to 617,996 over the 15-month Census survey period.

But due to its small population, the district will receive the minimum cap level of $284.560 million.

Texas was the next-fastest growing state, followed by Utah, Alaska, Colorado and North Dakota.

Three states — Rhode Island, Michigan and Maine — have lost population since the 2010 census.

However, the forecasted population declines for both Rhode Island and Maine are not large enough to trigger reductions in their PAB caps. They will each receive the minimum cap level of $284.560 million.

Eighteen other states will receive the minimum PAB volume cap level: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The PAB volume cap figures for 2011 do not include four U.S. possessions — American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

They are not included in the Census Bureau’s population estimates.

The IRS treats the four possessions like states but their populations are so small that they receive the small-state minimum volume caps.

These low-volume issuers rarely, if ever, reach their PAB caps.

Jennifer DePaul writes for The Bond Buyer.

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