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US Population Growth Rate Hits Lowest Point in a Century

Thanks to declining births, increasing deaths and more
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 30, 2019 6:15 PM CST

(Newser) – The past year’s population growth rate in the United States was the slowest in a century due to declining births, increasing deaths, and the slowdown of international migration, according to figures released Monday by the US Census Bureau. The US grew from 2018 to 2019 by almost a half-percent, or about 1.5 million people, with the population standing at 328 million this year, according to population estimates. That's the slowest growth rate in the US since 1917 to 1918, when the nation was involved in World War I, says William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. For the first time in decades, natural increase—the number of births minus the number of deaths—was less than 1 million in the US due to an aging population of Baby Boomers, whose oldest members entered their 70s within the past several years. As the large Boomer population continues to age, this trend is going to continue, the AP reports. A few details:

  • Four states had a natural decrease, where deaths outnumbered births: West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
  • Ten states had population declines in the past year. They included New York, which lost almost 77,000 people; Illinois, which lost almost 51,000 residents; West Virginia, which lost more than 12,000 people; Louisiana, which lost almost 11,000 residents; and Connecticut, which lost 6,200 people. Mississippi, Hawaii, New Jersey, Alaska and Vermont each lost less than 5,000 residents.
  • For the first time this decade, Puerto Rico had a population increase. The island, battered by economic stagnation and Hurricane Maria in the past several years, increased by 340 people between 2018 and 2019, with people moving to the island offsetting natural decrease.
  • International migration to the US decreased to 595,000 people from 2018 to 2019, dropping from as many as 1 million international migrants in 2016, according to the population estimates. Immigration restrictions by the Trump administration combined with a perception that the US has fewer economic opportunities than it did before the recession a decade ago contributed to the decline, Frey says.
  • Regionally, the South saw the greatest population growth from 2018 to 2019, increasing 0.8% due to natural increase and people moving from others parts of the country. The Northeast had a population decrease for the first time this decade, declining 0.1% due primarily to people moving away.
(Click to see how the population estimates offer a preview of which states may gain or lose congressional seats.)

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