U.S. population growth at lowest in first year of pandemic

(AP) – U.S. population growth has fallen 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 US 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, bringing the nation’s count to 331.8 million people, according to estimates by population published 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 decision not to have children from young families can be motivated by financial worries as much, if not more, than health concerns, said Linda Kahn, a professor at New York University and lead researcher in a study that showed that nearly half of New York City’s mothers who were trying to get pregnant before the pandemic began in the United States in March 2020 stopped during the outbreak’s first months.

“COVID was really a stress test of our entire system and its failure to support women and families,” Kahn said. “Women have been hit much harder by the pandemic. They lost their jobs at higher rates and had to give up their jobs, often to take home classes. The pressures on women were enormous and there really is no safety net in the United States.

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.

International migration has fallen by about half from the previous year due to COVID-19-related restrictions, such as the closure of borders for non-essential travel and the closure of many consulates abroad where visas are issued. As recently as 2016, the United States recorded a net increase of more than one million international migrants.

In more than two dozen states, including Florida, deaths outnumbered births. The deaths topped Florida births by more than 45,000 people, but the state’s saving grace has been a migratory gain of more than 259,000 people, the highest in the country.

University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson described the decline in the natural increase in the population of the United States as “astonishing”, saying it was the smallest gap between births and births. death in over 80 years.

“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 had the highest year-over-year growth rate, with Idaho increasing almost 3%, and Utah and Montana each seeing their population increase by 1.00%. 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. In pure numbers, California recorded the largest net population loss of any state – nearly 353,000.

While the pandemic has given some people 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 in September to a small town south of Knoxville, Tennessee. 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.”


Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP.


Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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