The Census Bureau population estimates during the height of COVID-19 from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 showed that U.S. growth dropped from an average of 2 million new residents a year to less than 400,000. The population freeze reflects changes in all three of the major components of growth: deaths, births and immigration rates. The major impacts were COVID-19; changes in fertility rates, mostly from an aging population; and much more restrictive international immigration policies.
In spite of the overall slowdown, some states keep gaining population, for example, Texas increased by 310,000 and Florida up more than 200,000, and no surprise, some keep losing, like New York down 319,000 and California losing 215,000 residents. Colorado gained about one percent in population during the COVID-19 year. The fastest growing states in the West were: Idaho (up 3%), Montana (2%), Utah (2%) and Arizona (2%).
America’s population bust is making at least some contribution to the staffing shortages since international immigration remains low, even with high-profile surges on the Texas border, which so galvanizes the state’s governor and national politics. The new resident total of 245,000 is half the size of the previous year (477,000) and down from more than one million in the pre-Trump era.
With an aging population and limited immigration, lower population growth is likely to be a feature of the next decade.