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New Census Data Shows Population Increased at Lowest Rate in US History

The demographic data is awful. I reflect on what it means for pensions.
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Annual Percent Change in US Population 2021

How Does Your State Compare?

That's the lead question on the latest Census Bureau Demographic Survey

Population Change for States

Key Points

  • The population of the United States grew in the past year by 392,665, or 0.1%, the lowest rate since the nation’s founding. 
  • The slow rate of growth can be attributed to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the nation’s growth was due to natural increase (148,043), which is the number of excess births over deaths, and net international migration (244,622). 
  • This is the first time that net international migration (the difference between the number of people moving into the country and out of the country) has exceeded natural increase for a given year.
  • The voting-age resident population, adults age 18 and over, grew to 258.3 million, comprising 77.8% of the population in 2021.

State Highlights

  • With a population of 29,527,941 in 2021, Texas had the largest annual and cumulative numeric gain, increasing by 310,288 (1.1%) and 382,436 (1.3%), respectively.
    • While gaining population through net international migration (27,185), the growth in Texas in the last year was primarily due to gains from net domestic migration (170,307) and natural increase (113,845).
  • Idaho had the fastest annual and cumulative population increase, growing by 2.9% (53,151) in the last year, and by 3.4% (61,817) since April 1, 2020.
    • Idaho made modest gains from natural increase (4,398) and net international migration (413); however, the main driver of its fast increase was net domestic migration (48,876).
  • New York had the largest annual and cumulative numeric population decline, decreasing by 319,020 (1.6%) and 365,336 (1.8%), respectively.
    • New York’s declining population in the last year was attributed to negative domestic migration (-352,185).
  • Over the past year, the District of Columbia’s population declined by 2.9%, or 20,043 residents, to a population of 670,050 in 2021. This was the largest annual percent decrease in the nation.
    • The decline in the District of Columbia’s population can be attributed to negative net domestic migration (-23,030), which was large enough to offset gains from natural increase (2,171) and net international migration (1,128).
  • Three states had populations above 20 million in 2021: California (39,237,836), Texas (29,527,941) and Florida (21,781,128). New York dropped below 20 million people in the last year, decreasing from 20,154,933 to 19,835,913.

Components of Change Highlights

  • The largest net domestic migration gains were in Florida (220,890), Texas (170,307) and Arizona (93,026).
  • All 50 states and the District of Columbia saw positive net international migration. Florida (38,590), Texas (27,185) and New York (18,307) had the largest population gains from net international migration.
  • Twenty-five states experienced natural decrease in 2021, where there were more deaths than births. This was attributed to further decreases in fertility combined with increased mortality. Florida had the highest natural decrease at -45,248, followed by Pennsylvania (-30,878) and Ohio (-15,811).
  • In 2021, 20 states and the District of Columbia lost residents via net domestic migration. Largest domestic migration losses were in California (-367,299), New York (-352,185) and Illinois (-122,460).

Top 10 Most populous States 2021

Top 10 Most populous States 2021

Top 10 States in Numeric Growth 2021

Top 10 States in Numeric Growth 2021

Top 10 States in Percent Growth 2021

Top 10 States in Percent Growth 2021

Top 10 States in Numeric Decline

Top 10 States in Numeric Decline

Top 10 States in Percent Decline

Top 10 States in Percent Decline

Westward Ho!

Center of Population

The Center of Population keeps shifting westward and in a generally Southern direction as well. It's been in Missouri for 4 decades but that won't last much longer.

Components of Population Change 

Population Change and the Components 2001-2021

That is the key chart. Deaths are on the verge of overtaking births. And net immigration is barely above zero.

Reflections on Demographic Data 

Scroll to Continue

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I am pleased to be an escapee of Illinois number 3 in terms of numeric and percentage decline.

We moved to Utah, number 2 in percentage growth and number 7 in numeric growth.

Illinois is rated the worst state overall from a business and tax standpoint. 

Texas, Florida, and Arizona have far better business climates and the the numbers show just that. 

Deflationary Trends

Personal anecdotes aside, the most import important point is that deaths are on the verge of overtaking births.

This is hugely deflationary.

Some suggest immigration is the answer.

However, an immigration free-for-all with low-skilled immigrants, increasing minimum wages, and free or mandated benefits don't mix well at all. 

That's a recipe for stagflation.

Pension System Disaster

Meanwhile, the public pension plans are already a disaster. 

By 2030 every baby boomer will be 65 or older. They will be retired with fewer people contributing less and less. 

Illinois Taxpayers On the Hook for $530 Billion in Unfunded Pension Obligations

On November 22, I noted Illinois Taxpayers On the Hook for $530 Billion in Unfunded Pension Obligations

Moody’s estimate of Illinois’ retirement debts, made up of pension and retiree health shortfalls at the state and local level, hits $530 billion in 2020.

This is despite a massive multi-year stock market rally and huge tax hikes that went to pension funds and little else.

Illinois just reached an alarming milestone: each Illinois household is now on the hook for, on average, $110,000 in government-worker retirement debts. That figure is the result of dividing Illinois’ $530 billion in state and local retirement shortfalls among the state’s 4.9 million households. In 2019, the burden was $90,000 per household.  

Not Just Illinois 

Illinois State-Level Pension debt as % of Revenue

Illinois is the worst state but nearly every state has hugely underfunded plans. 

Wisconsin is different because under its system, if the plan fails the workers cover shortfalls, not the taxpayer.

Except for Wisconsin, the entire system is insolvent and will blow up as soon as withdrawals reach a certain point, even though it is very difficult to predict that precise point. 

Demographics coupled with panic at some point will bring this issue to a crisis stage. And you can see for yourself what the demographics say.

 Thanks for Tuning In!

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