Apr 11, 2023 - News

Pennsylvania's population shrinks during pandemic

Change in Pennsylvania population, 2020 to 2022
Credits: Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Pennsylvania’s population shrank .17% between 2020-2022, per new U.S. Census Bureau data, Axios’ Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Philadelphia County saw a steeper drop of about 2% over the same span, down from 1,600,600 to 1,567,258.

The big picture: The past few years have been especially turbulent for population trends, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting birth and death rates, interstate and international migration, and more.

Of note: Philadelphia County’s birth and death rates remained relatively steady. There were about 300 more births in 2022 when compared to the 19,355 in 2021, per the data.

What they’re saying: “Some social scientists would say ‘don’t make too much of it’,” Carl Gershenson, project director at the Eviction Lab, told Axios. “There’s so many questions about the future of cities. We all want to put more narrative on these statistics than we can bear.”

Zoom out: Idaho, Montana and Florida saw the highest population growth among U.S. states between 2020-2022, while New York, Illinois and Louisiana suffered the most shrinkage.

  • Idaho's population of roughly 1.84 million grew by nearly 4.9%, while that of Montana (1.1M) and Florida (21.6M) grew by 3.3% and 3.0%, respectively. Utah and South Carolina came in just a hair under 3%.
  • New York, meanwhile, shrank by 2.1%, while Illinois and Louisiana lost 1.6% and 1.3% of their populations, respectively.

Zoom in: Some cities have been hit particularly hard by population loss.

  • San Francisco lost a staggering 7.1% of its residents — a trend that was likely at least partially fueled by tech workers newly unshackled from their offices in the remote work era, combined with high housing costs.
  • Manhattan, however, grew a bit, as Axios' Emily Peck reports, complicating the sweeping "big cities are dying" narrative of the late pandemic era.

The intrigue: Some of the fastest growing areas — we're looking at you, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico — are also some of the most vulnerable to the ongoing effects of climate change, including drought and a dwindling water supply.

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