America’s population grew at the lowest rate on record this year, according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday that show how the pandemic is changing the country’s demographic contours.
The United States added just 393,000 people in the year that ended July 1, including 148,000 more births than deaths, a surplus that has long supplied much of the nation’s growth. The other component—which measures movement to and from abroad—grew by 245,000. It was the first year in which growth from births exceeding deaths fell below net arrivals from abroad, according to the bureau.
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The new estimates offer a summary of the pandemic’s fallout after its first year. Population growth had been slowing before the pandemic, but it had averaged more than 2 million a year over the last decade. As recently as 2016, the country grew by 2.3 million people.
Birthrates have fallen steadily since the 2007-09 recession. Death rates had edged up, especially in states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic. And immigration dropped in recent years under policies set by former President Trump.
Seventeen states lost population, led by New York (-1.6%), Illinois (-0.9%) and Hawaii (-0.7%). California, which recorded only its second decrease ever after logging its first last year, also dropped by 0.7%. The District of Columbia’s population dropped 2.9%.
More broadly, the Midwest lost 0.1% and the Northeast lost 0.6%. The West was essentially flat while the South gained 0.6%. Texas, the largest Southern state, gained 1.1%. States that grew the most included Idaho (2.9%), Utah (1.7%) and Montana (1.7%).
The estimates themselves also were affected by the pandemic, which has delayed detailed 2020 census data on which the estimates would normally be based. Instead, the bureau used limited 2020 census totals and other sources, such as birth and death certificates. The bureau is required to publish the estimates each year to help state and local governments in budgeting and distributing aid. The estimates also underpin disease and death rates.
Write to Paul Overberg at Paul.Overberg@wsj.com
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