US population growth has slowed to the lowest rate since the Great Depression, the Census Bureau said Monday, as Americans continued their march to the South and West and one-time engines of growth, New York and California, lost political influence. Altogether, the US population rose to 331,449,281 last year, the Census Bureau said, a 7.4% increase over the previous decade that was the second-slowest ever. Experts say that paltry pace reflects the combination of an aging population, slowing immigration, and the scars of the Great Recession more than a decade ago, which led many young adults to delay marriage and families, the AP reports.
The overall numbers confirm what demographers have long warned—that the country's growth is stalling. Many had expected growth to come in even below the 1930s levels given the long hangover of the Great Recession and the drying up of immigration, which came to a virtual halt during last year's pandemic. William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, warned that even a recovering economy may not change the trend with the population aging rapidly and immigration contentious. “Unlike the Great Depression, it's part of a process where we're likely to keep having slow growth,” Frey said. (Meanwhile, here's what the census numbers could mean for the GOP.)