May 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Big cities saw population declines during pandemic

Percentage change in population of most populous cities
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Note: Population is on July 1, 2021; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

More than half of the country's 15 largest cities saw population decreases during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new U.S. census data released Thursday measuring city growth from July 2020 to July 2021.

Driving the news: The switch to remote work during the pandemic enabled many people to move, prompted desires for cheaper cost of living or lifestyle changes.

By the numbers: Although New York remains the nation's largest city, its population decreased by more than 305,000 people during the pandemic, about 3.5% of its population.

  • Los Angeles, the second largest city in the U.S., lost more than 40,000 people, roughly 1% of its population.
  • Chicago, the third largest city, shrunk by more than 45,000 people, about 1.6% of its 2020 population.
  • San Francisco experienced the highest percentage population loss, shrinking by 55,000 residents, 6.5% of its 2020 level, per AP.
  • Cities including Houston, Philadelphia and San Jose also saw losses.

Meanwhile, of the nine cities in the country with more than 1 million people, only two saw population increases: Phoenix and San Antonio. However, each registered only small gains, the data shows.

Between the lines: Chicago and San Francisco's populations have now dropped to close to their 2010 levels, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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