Published: Sep 02, 2010 7:58 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 02, 2010 4:58 PM EDT

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Preliminary figures show Florida's population went up slightly in 2009 after a one-year decline broke a steady string of growth dating to the end of World War II.

The University of Florida reported Thursday that the state added an estimated 21,000 residents last year. That's after losing more than 56,000 in 2008.

Florida's total estimated population now is 18,771,768.

Stan Smith, director of the university's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said while population was up last year it was the smallest increase since the 1940s.

Smith said it also didn't make up for the previous year's decline.

He attributed the growth to a slight improvement in Florida's economy although it's still bad.