U.S. Population Growth Remains Sluggish Despite Uptick This Year

Census Bureau figures released Thursday showed the U.S. population to grow 0.4% this year, putting pressure on a tight labor market in a period of historically slow growth.

The United States added 1.3 million people in the year ended July 1, bringing its total population to 333.3 million. This includes her 245,000 more births than deaths, and this surplus has long supported much of the country’s growth. Another factor that measures people entering and leaving the country was an increase of one million.

Population growth, which had slowed before the pandemic, has averaged over 2 million people a year over the past decade. As recently as 2016, the United States increased her 2.3 million.

Eighteen states experienced population declines, led by New York (-0.9%), Illinois (-0.8%), and Louisiana (-0.8%). California, the most populous state in the United States, saw a 0.3% decline. The population was not declining until the pandemic, but now it is declining continuously every year.

The states with the highest growth rates were Florida (1.9%), Idaho (1.8%), South Carolina (1.7%) and Texas (1.6%).

For interstate migration, Florida had the highest net increase of 444,000, or more than 1,200 per day, followed by Texas (350,000), North Carolina (126,000), and South Carolina (95,000). California (minus 218,000), New York (minus 222,000) and Illinois (minus 110,000) lost the most.

Florida has been one of the fastest-growing states in the United States in recent years, but it’s the first time since 1957 that it posted its fastest growth rate in a single year, according to Census officials.

More broadly, the population of the South increased by 1.1% and the West by 0.2%. The Midwest was down 0.1% and the Northeast was down 0.4%.

Although overall growth was low, the country’s long westward and southward migration continued. Tennessee overtook Massachusetts for 15th place, and Missouri overtook Maryland for 18th place.

Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, said 24 states had more deaths than births in the years covered by the report. “That’s a surprisingly high number,” he said.

Before the pandemic hit, Johnson said it was unusual for even five states to record what demographers call a natural decline from year to year.

“Obviously, Covid has created most of this natural decline by pushing up mortality and death tolls,” he said. There was an increase in mortality in

With so many states having more deaths than births, Johnson said growth would have to come from other states and other countries. If so, it must be immigration,” he said.

Despite slow growth, the United States is expected to continue growing at least through the middle of this century, according to projections from the Census Bureau and the United Nations. In comparison, Japan and many Eastern European countries, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Portugal, are starting to lose population. Her 1.4 billion population in China may have peaked, and in 2021 he will increase by only 0.03%.

The influx of skilled workers from other countries helps companies find labor. This is something that has been lacking in the United States in recent years.

The low US unemployment rate (3.7% as of November) is a challenge to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to cool the economy and bring inflation down from nearly 40 years of high inflation. Labor shortages tend to push up wages, which drives up business costs.

After declining 20% ​​from its most recent peak in 2007, the US birth rate rose slightly again in the year ended June 30th. National Center for Health Statistics.

When births barely outnumber deaths, internal growth becomes negligible and immigration becomes a large proportion of growth. About 80% of the population growth last year was due to arrivals from abroad, up from about 40% a decade ago.

A recent report from the Institute for Immigration Policy, a nonpartisan think tank, said visas for new legal permanent residents are approaching pre-pandemic levels after a sharp decline. An estimated 1 million people received such visas in the year to September 30, close to the long-term average of 1.1 million.

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Most people caught trying to cross the border illegally have been sent back, but the pandemic has slowed legal immigration routes, reduced visa processing to about half of normal levels, and halted refugee admission programs. Census figures include people living in the United States illegally, but pinpointing the exact number can be difficult.

Earlier this week, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily extended the Trump administration’s policy, known as Title 42, which barred asylum seekers from entering the United States to protect Americans from Covid-19. did. The order maintains the status quo, and the court is considering urgent requests to maintain its exclusion from the Republican-led state.

In a separate report released Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said life expectancy in the United States fell again last year to its lowest level since 1996 after a pandemic and opioid overdoses led to rising death tolls. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death for the second year in a row, cutting life expectancy from 78.8 years before the 2019 pandemic to 76.4 years in 2021.

Write to Paul Overberg (paul.overberg@wsj.com) and John McCormick (mccormick.john@wsj.com).

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