US Records 'Stunning' Population Stat

Nation added fewer than 400K people, sees lowest growth rate in history
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 21, 2021 11:43 AM CST
Never Has the US Population Grown So Slowly
People walk across a crowded intersection in New York City.   (Getty Images/deberarr)

US population growth dipped to its lowest rate since the nation’s founding during the first year of the pandemic as the coronavirus curtailed immigration, delayed pregnancies, and killed hundreds of thousands of US residents, according to figures released Tuesday. The United States grew by only 0.1%, with an additional 392,665 added to the population from July 2020 to July 2021, according to population estimates released by the Census Bureau, per the AP. The overall total inched up to 331.9 million, notes the Wall Street Journal. The US has been experiencing slow population growth for years, but this was the first time since 1937 that the nation’s population grew by less than 1 million people.

"I was expecting low growth but nothing this low," said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's metropolitan policy program, Brookings Metro. "It tells us that this pandemic has had a huge impact on us in all kinds of ways, and now demography." Between 2020 and 2021, 33 states saw population increases, primarily through domestic migration, while 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population. States in the Mountain West saw the biggest year-over-year growth, with Idaho growing by almost 3%, and Utah and Montana each seeing population increases of 1.7%. The District of Columbia lost 2.9% of its population, while New York and Illinois lost 1.6% and 0.9% of their populations, respectively.

University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson described the decline in natural population increase as “stunning," saying it was the smallest spread of births over deaths in more than 80 years. "Of course most of this is COVID, but not all of it," Johnson said. "US natural increase was already at a low ebb prior to COVID with the fertility rate hitting a new record low each year and deaths steadily rising due to the population aging." (More population growth stories.)

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