CENSUS: Three states report net-losses as U.S. sees slowest growth since the Great Depression

Preliminary data from the Census Bureau reports the country’s population growth rate over the last decade was the slowest since the Great Depression, with three states, Illinois, Mississippi, and West Virginia, having a net loss of residents. 

West Virginia saw the greatest percentage decline of 3.2%. That translates to about 60,000 fewer residents. Mississippi lost 0.2% of residents, or about 6,000 people. And Illinois lost 0.1% of residents or about 18,000 residents. Formerly the fifth largest state, Illinois is now in sixth place behind Pennsylvania. As a result, Illinois and West Virginia each lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor, and senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire explained, “It’s unusual in the U.S. to have a state lose population.” However, states across the South and West saw the greatest gains. Utah, the state with the fastest-growing population, grew by 18.4%. Texas gained two House seats. Additionally, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each added one. Johnson revealed that “In a way, these are the continuation of trends that were going on for some time. They were interrupted by the Great Recession and its aftermath, as well as the slowdown in immigration to the U.S., but the general trends have been fairly consistent.” Furthermore, Johnson stated, “We’ve seen all through the decade that the population growth rates were not very fast.” He added, “Once the Great Recession hit in 2007-2010, the birth rates have dropped, and they have not recovered. The birth rate in the past year was the lowest we’ve had in the time that we have records for it.”

Ron Jarmin, acting director of the Census Bureau, claimed that the U.S. population growth rate “slowed significantly” in the past decade. The U.S. population increased by 7.4% since the last census from about 309 million to 331 million, the slowest growth rate the nation has seen since 1940. Regionally, the South saw more than a 10% increase in population, followed by the West, Northeast, and Midwest. Jarmin said the numbers reflect an ongoing trend of growth shifting to the South and West.





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