By now, many of us in the baby naming business (whether a parent-to-be or a name enthusiast) are aware of the 2015 Most Popular Baby Names as reported by the U.S. Social Security Administration. Many of the same names from the last ten years appear on this list, including the most popular names, Noah and Emma. What we haven't seen yet, however, is an analysis of state-by-state data. Mallory Moss Katz, founding partner of BabyNames.com, presents a breakdown of regional and state-by-state differences in baby naming trends for 2015.
One notable regional difference is that the name Elijah appears in the top ten baby names of most of the states in the Southern U.S. but is absent in the top ten for the mid-Atlantic and New England states. In contrast, the New England states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire have the name Jack in the top ten while the name Jackson is far more pervasive in the Southern United States, likely after confederate general Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.
The name Lucy appears on Utah's top ten but does not appear on any other state's top ten list. Utah also shares the name Hazel with Montana but no other states. Hazel is a fast rising name in the U.S., perhaps made popular by the book and movie The Fault in Our Stars. Another quickly rising name is Aria/Arya, notable for being the name of a heroine in the book and television series Game of Thrones, as well as the TV series Pretty Little Liars. Aria is on the top ten lists for Hawaii, New Mexico, and Wyoming; however, it could also mean that these states are just early adaptors to the rising-star girl names. This phenomenon is less commonly seen in boy names, with the exception of the name Hudson, which has risen from rank 587 to 65 in the last decade, and appears in the top ten 2015 boy names only in the state of South Dakota.
Another name unique to South Dakota's top ten is Levi, which has not been in the top 1000 names for the last decade. Other boy names that appear in top ten lists but are not popular overall in the United States include Sebastian (Texas, Nevada, California, and Arizona), Lincoln (Utah), Christian (Mississippi), Ezekiel (Hawaii), Josiah (New Mexico), Dylan (New Jersey), Jose (Texas), and Ryker (Wyoming). Unique girl names showing as popular in one state but not on the overall top ten lists for the others include Brooklyn, Mary and Chloe (Mississippi), Skylar (South Carolina), Savannah (Delaware), Mila (Hawaii), and Natalie (Wyoming).
So what states are most likely to reflect the top ten names in the nation? For boy names, Maryland and Illinois were the most closely matched to U.S. popularity. Many more states had girl names closely aligned with the U.S. list, including Georgia, Colorado, Nevada, Indiana, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The most common popular name left out of top ten names across these states is Harper, which seems to be less popular in the Mid Atlantic states. Madison was the most common name creeping into the top ten, with no regional trend to its popularity. Of note, Madison just left the top ten U.S. girl names and is currently number eleven. The least common state to reflect the U.S. top ten list is Mississippi, boasting alternate girl names including Brooklyn, Paisley, Addison and Chloe as well as alternate boy names of John, Elijah, Aiden, Carter, Jayden, and Christian. Maine and California also deviated significantly from the top ten U.S. names.
So the trends that we've seen, overall: The top ten boy names by state are less likely to reflect that of the U.S. top names, however girl names are more likely to match the top ten list of 2015, albeit mostly in the non-Southern states. The most adventurous baby naming states seem to be Hawaii and Wyoming.
So what are the up and coming names slowly rising in the ranks? For girls, Paisley appeared as ultra-popular in seven states and Sebastian shows up as a top name in four states. And, as we have seen in several our baby names trend analyses, people name their babies after their favorite fictional characters. Thus, along with Arya/Aria and Hazel, we may see more names like Dory (Finding Dory), Esme (still rising and made popular by Twilight), Ella (Frozen) and maybe even a Maverick (Top Gun) or two.
You can see the top ten boy and girl names in your state by clicking here!
Dr. Mallory Moss Katz is a board-certified nurse practitioner in psychiatry and founding partner of BabyNames.com. Dr. Katz' passions lay in community-based mental health and destigmatizing mental health diagnoses. Since its launch in 1996, BabyNames.com has been heralded as one of the top parenting sites on the internet. Dr. Katz was also the editor of the popular online parenting advice column, "Ask Grandma Maggie."