The US had 331,449,281 people as of April 1, 2021, a 7.4% increase in population from 2010, the US Census Bureau announced on Monday.
The South was the fastest-growing region of the country, with its population increasing by 10.2% over the last decade, followed by the West at 9.1%, the Northeast at 4.1%, and the Midwest at 3.1%.
The new data determines how many congressional seats each state gets based on population — which means that the South and West stand to gain more House of Representatives spots, while the Northwest and Midwest could lose them.
The country’s total population grew by only 0.35% from July 2019 to July 2020, or just 1.1 million people. It marked the “lowest annual growth rate since at least 1900,” demographer William Frey, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said at the time in an analysis for the Washington, DC-based think tank.
States in the Northeast and Midwest saw slight declines in population, while the South and West saw slight upticks.
The increases, though, are significant because they revealed where Americans moved during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. Americans overwhelmingly flocked to less dense areas in the southern and middle swaths of the country.
Idaho had the largest year-over-year increase. The state grew by 2.1% to a total of 1.8 million residents. Californians, in particular, have flocked to Idaho amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In search of more idyllic work-from-home locales, people have also fled to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas, which followed Idaho in the list of states with the biggest population increases. Texas was also the state with the largest 10-year increase, with nearly four million more residents than it had in 2010.
New York, on the other hand, saw the largest yearly population decrease. Its populace dipped 0.65%, or by about 126,000 residents. The state has notched population declines in several recent years, but 2020’s drop was notably larger than before — most likely attributable to New York City being the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic at its outset in March. The New Yorkers who fled likely left for neighboring states like New Jersey and Connecticut or for sunnier skies in Florida or California.
These shifts in population have political implications
The official census data released on Monday determines how many House of Representatives seats each state gets based on population. Frey accurately predicted that a number of states would lose House seats — including that California would likely lose one of its 53 seats for the first time in its history.
In addition to California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are all losing one seat each.
In December, Frey noted that New York’s population dip, however small, was poised to impact the state. Census officials revealed during a Monday news conference that had the census counted just 89 more people in New York, the state would have kept the same number of House seats. Minnesota would have lost one seat instead.
Frey’s December analysis noted that Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island were also projected to lose seats. In the final count, the three were spared.
Meanwhile, states welcoming new residents in droves amid the coronavirus pandemic gained seats, in line with Frey’s prediction. Texas, where everyone seems to be moving — even Elon Musk — gained two seats. The state was the biggest 2020 census redistricting winner. Florida, which is emerging as a growing financial hub and even a “new Wall Street,” also gained one seat alongside Colorado, North Carolina, Montana, and Oregon.
The data released by the US Census Bureau and analyzed by Frey in December represents population estimates made independently of the 2020 census. Those figures ultimately provided a largely accurate sneak preview at Monday’s official census numbers. A more detailed dataset that shows official population shifts down to the county, city, town, and neighborhood levels is not expected to arrive until mid-August due to pandemic delays.
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