Census Shows Americans are Heading to Sun Belt States in Increasing Numbers

According to data released by the United States Census Bureau, the United States’ population grew over the past year by 392,665, a 0.1%.

This represented the lowest population growth rate since America’s founding.

The sluggish growth rate can be attributed to falling net international migration, reduced fertility, and increased mortality partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” observed Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

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Since April 1, 2020 (Census Day), the nation’s population grew from 331,449,281 to 331,893,745, which represented an increase of 444,464, or 0.13%.

From July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the nation’s growth was partly due to natural increase (148,043).

This figure represents the number of excess births over deaths and net international migration (244,622).

The time period observed represented the first time that net international migration had surpassed the natural increase for a given year.

Net international immigration is the difference between the number of people entering the country and exiting the country.

At 127,225,329, the South was the most populous region of the four regions. It was the only region that had positive net domestic migration of 657,682 from 2020 to 2021.

Net domestic migration is the movement of people from a given area in the U.S. to another area within the country.

The Northeast region was the least populous of the four regions with a population of 57,159,838 in 2021.

The Northeast witnessed a population decrease of -365,795 residents due to natural decrease (-31,052) and negative net domestic migration (-389,638).

The West experienced a population increase (35,868) despite losing residents through negative net domestic migration (-144,941).

Growth in the West was driven due to natural increase (143,082) and positive net international migration (38,347).

From 2020 to 2021, 33 states experienced population increases and 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population. 11 of those states that lost population had losses north of 10,000 people.

With a population of 29,527,941 in 2021, Texas witnessed the largest annual and cumulative numeric increase, growing by 310,288 (1.1%) and 382,436 (1.3%), respectively.

Although Texas gained population via net international migration (27,185), Texas’ growth in the last year was largely due to increase from net domestic migration (170,307) and natural increase (113,845).

None of these numbers should come as a surprise to those of us who follow state politics. Sun Belt states are known for having more affordable housing markets, business-friendly environments, and robust law & order policies.

As long as blue states continue to pursue policies that deteriorate their constituents’ quality of life, the Sun Belt will continue to gain from migrants from other states.