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Expand chart
Data: William H. Frey analysis of historical censuses; American Community Survey (ACS); Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios; Note: Estimates for 2009-2010 overestimates foreign-born increase due to weighting differences between the 2009 and 2010 ACS. The new 2011 estimates provide accurate differences between 2010-2015.

The population of foreign-born citizens and residents in the United States has plummeted for the first time in over a decade, according to analysis of new experimental U.S. Census Bureau data.

Why it matters: While the decline coincides with the spread of COVID-19, a country with an aging population like that found in the United States needs strong levels of immigration to support economic growth. More immediately, immigrants could help fill the millions of job openings in the U.S.

  • The new data from the American Community Survey (ACS) also revealed the smallest decade gain in the foreign-born population since the 1960s, at 3.6 million. In comparison, the immigrant population grew by 8.8 million during the 2000s.
  • The data "strongly suggest a [sizable] downturn in the U.S. foreign-born population, no doubt related to a downturn in immigration in the last year" due to coronavirus restrictions, Brookings Institution demographer William Frey told Axios.

Of note: The pandemic complicated efforts to collect census data, and the 2020 ACS results did not meet the bureau's data standards for previous years.

  • Both factors explain why they are labeled "experimental."

Former President Trump's effort to exclude undocumented populations from reapportionment numbers, though ultimately failing, may have led some immigrant populations to be wary of responding to overall U.S. Census Bureau outreach.

  • This may have at least partially contributed to the lower foreign-born population numbers, Frey said.

Go deeper

Tech firms cheer smoother visa sailing

Expand chart
Data: USCIS; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Biden-era approach to visas used by skilled foreign workers is injecting more certainty into the hiring process for large tech employers after four tumultuous Trump administration years.

Driving the news: Biden's first year saw a record low in the denial rate of high-skilled foreign worker visa petitions, according to an analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy shared exclusively with Axios.

13 mins ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

Updated 37 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.