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Demographics & Statistics

US Population Growth Hits Record Low

2 years, 2 months ago

15149  0
Posted on Mar 31, 2022, 6 p.m.

According to census statistics, the American population growth has plummeted to its lowest rate since the nation started taking a census during the onset of the pandemic as it curtailed legal immigration, delayed pregnancies, and killed many more paired with the trends of reduced fertility and an aging population already underway. The U.S. Census Bureau suggests that the American population only grew by 0.1%, with an additional 392,665 added to the population from July 2020 to July 2021 bringing the national count to 331.8 million people. 

In 2021, according to the bureau, over three-fifths of the growth (244,622 people) is estimated to be from net international migration or the difference between the number of people moving into America and out of the country. Natural increase (the number of births minus the number of deaths) was estimated to be 148,043 people, this number is a massive drop of 84% from just two years ago, and this was the first year that the net international migration exceeded the natural increase. 

17 states reported lost population during 2021, with the biggest declines being reported in New York, California, and Illinois, with these states having large numbers of people moving out of state and domestic migration tending to exacerbate overall gains/losses. Last year 25 states (over two-thirds) registered a natural decrease (when there are more deaths than births), compared to just 8 the year before and only 4 in the three years prior that that. 73% of American counties reported natural decrease which is up from 55.5% in 2020 and 45.5% in 2019. 

Last year the natural decrease was reported to be highest in California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. States with the highest international migration loss (more moving out than in) were reported as being California, Oregon, and Mississippi. States with the highest net domestic migration loss (moving in from another state) were reported as being California, Alaska, Louisiana, and Illinois. Los Angeles County and New York County experienced the highest net migration losses, with San Francisco, Oakland, and Chicago having notable population declines. According to the numbers California has experienced the greatest population loss with over 353,000 people leaving. On the flip side, the biggest gains were reported in Texas, Florida, and Arizona, these states experienced high levels of in-flow migration, with Maricopa County Arizona gaining the most. Virginia and Maryland were more stable changing -0.1% and 0.1%, respectively. 

Between March 2020 and March 2021, according to 2021 estimates, 27.1 Americans report living at a different residence than the previous year, compared to 29.8 million in 2020. This is an 8.4% mover rate, and it represents the lowest documents number since records started being kept in the 1940s. This continues the downward trend of Americans not moving around much in region. The previous 5 years also reflected lower moving rates that have been declining since the post-WWII decades when one-fifth of the country moved annually during the period of economic growth and robust housing consumption and a younger population. Moving rates dropped to 15-16% by the late 1990s and dropped to below 10% in the early 2000s up to the past three years. This decrease is said to correlate with the overall decrease in America’s total population growth which is at its lowest point since the 1930s according to the 2020 Census. 

The population slow down could have consequences if the trend continues such as having not enough younger people to supply the labor force, or too few younger people to take care of the older population. 

"I was expecting low growth, but nothing this low," said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's metropolitan policy program. "We knew it [the pandemic] has had a lot of economic impact, a lot of social impact; this shows it has had a big demographic impact that is going to last us for several years."

"We have an aging population, and that means fewer women in child-bearing ages," said Frey "We see younger people putting off having children, and they're going to have fewer children."

“These are numbers you see in some Eastern European countries. It does make you stand up and take notice. It’s really a benchmark we hope we don’t see too often.”

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