Dec 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. population growth falls to record low

Population change by state
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Cartogram: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The U.S. population grew by 0.1% in the year that ended July 1, the slowest rate since the nation's founding, according to Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

Why it matters: The bureau said the "slow rate of growth can be attributed to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic."

By the numbers: The bureau estimates that the population grew by 392,665 people between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021.

  • The nation's growth was caused by a natural increase (the number of excess births over deaths) of 148,043 and a net international migration of 244,622. It's the first time that migration surpassed natural increase, the Census Bureau said.

Zoom in: "Between 2020 and 2021, 33 states saw population increases and 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population, 11 of which had losses of over 10,000 people. This is a historically large number of states to lose population in year," the Census Bureau said.

  • Texas saw the largest increase in total population, and Idaho's population grew at the fastest rate.
  • Texas, California and Florida all had populations of over 20 million people. New York dropped below that amount last year.

Puerto Rico’s population decreased by 17,954 people, or 0.5%, between 2020 and 2021. The bureau said the decrease was due to "natural decrease (-14,173) and negative net international migration (-3,781)."

Between the lines: Population growth has been slowing down in the U.S. since before the pandemic.

What they're saying: "Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population," Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau, said in a statement.

  • "Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in an historically slow pace of growth," Wilder added.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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