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Data: William H Frey analysis of US decennial censuses 2010-2010, 2020 Census Demographic Analysis released December 15, 2020; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Even in an unlikely "high growth rate" scenario, America's population has grown at the slowest rate since at least the 1930s, according to recent Census Bureau projections for the last decade.

Why it matters: America is aging. There is a growing number of people out of the workforce, and a relatively smaller number of people trying to support them — a situation that could cripple programs like Social Security and slow economic growth.

  • In the lowest growth rate scenario, the U.S. could see the slowest 10-year increase in its population since at least the 1790s, according to analysis by Brookings Institution demographer William Frey.
  • Other new Census data found that between July 2019 and July 2020, the nation grew at the lowest yearly rate since at least 1900, largely because of the pandemic.

Americans aren't having as many babies as they used to, mirroring a trend in many developed countries.

  • The number of Americans under age 25 has been stagnant this decade in all three of the Census' projected scenarios, according to Frey's analysis.
  • The population under age 5 declined in all three scenarios.

Between the lines: The U.S. population hasn't aged as much as other nations like Japan — which has seen its overall population decline — largely because of strong immigration. But now immigration has been declining as well.

  • Census data from last year found that the immigrant population over the last decade has grown less than in any decade since the 1970s.
  • Even so, immigration has been projected to become the primary driver of population growth in this decade, given the low birth rates and the expected increase in death rates as the Boomer generation ages. It has already prevented population decline in some cities.

What to watch: The new Census data does not fully account for the near shutdown of the immigration system or the deaths caused by the coronavirus this year.

  • "We're not really seeing in this yet the true impact of COVID on population change," Frey said. "If you had to do this for another year afterwards, we would see probably even lower annual growth."

About the data: The population analysis by the Census Bureau is done every 10 years and used to compare to the official Census count, which we will get sometime early this year.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

California to remove word "alien" from state laws

Gov. Gavin Newsom during a September news conference in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

California is removing the word "alien" from its state laws and replacing it with words such as "noncitizen" and "immigrant," Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced.

Why it matters: The word "alien" began to be used in the 1990s "as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language," per a statement from Newsom's office.