The U.S. population hit their lowest rate in 2020: here’s why it matters

U.S. population growth fell to its lowest rate since the nation’s founding in the first year of the pandemic, as the coronavirus reduced immigration, delayed pregnancies and killed hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents, according to figures released Tuesday.

The United States grew only 0.1%, with an additional 392,665 people added to the U.S. population from July 2020 to July 2021, according to population estimates released by the US Census Bureau.

The United States has experienced slow population growth for years, but the pandemic has exacerbated that trend. Last year was the first time since 1937 that the country’s population had grown by less than one million people.

“I expected weak growth but nothing this low,” said William Frey, senior researcher in 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 on demographics. “

Once the pandemic is brought under control, the United States could eventually see a decrease in the number of deaths, but population growth is unlikely to return to what it has been in recent years due to declining births. This will increase the need for immigration of young workers whose taxes can support programs such as Social Security, Frey said.

“We have an aging population and that means fewer women of reproductive age,” Frey said. “We see young people putting off having children and they are going to have fewer. “

The population estimates are derived from calculating the number of births, deaths, and migrations in the United States. For the first time, international migration has exceeded natural increases resulting from more births than deaths. There has been a net increase of almost 245,000 residents due to international migration, but only about 148,000 new births outnumbering deaths.

University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson called the decline in natural population growth “astonishing”, saying it was the smallest gap between births and deaths ever. 80 years old.

“Of course, most of this is COVID, but not all of it,” Johnson said. “The natural increase in the United States was already at a low ebb before COVID, with the fertility rate hitting a new high every year and deaths steadily increasing due to the aging of the population. “

Between 2020 and 2021, 33 states saw their populations increase, mostly due to internal migration, while 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population.

Mountain West states saw the strongest year-over-year growth, with Idaho increasing nearly 3%, and Utah and Montana each seeing their populations increase 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 population, respectively.

While the pandemic has given some the ability to work remotely, data released last month by the Census Bureau shows that there has been no major migration to the United States because of it.

However, some took the opportunity. Tired of the heat, hurricane threats and traffic in Houston, technician Heidi Krueger moved to a small town south of Knoxville, Tennessee, in September. She can see the Great Smoky Mountains from her porch.

“Because I was working from home during the pandemic, it was possible to move out and keep my same job,” Krueger said. “As long as I have the Internet, I can still connect to our customers.”

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