White and youth population losses contributed most to the nation’s growth slowdown, new census data reveals
William H. Frey
Previous analyses of Census Bureau estimates make plain that the nation’s population growth has ground down to a historic low: only 0.1% growth between July 2020 and July 2021. During this prime year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths rose sharply, births declined, and immigration reached its lowest levels in decades. At the same time, population movement within the U.S. led to sharp declines in many of its largest metro areas—particularly in these areas’ biggest cities.
Now, newly released Census Bureau estimates allow us to examine these shifts via specific race-ethnic and age groups. Unlike the 2020 census data, these estimates permit analyses of annual population change.
This report focuses on annual changes from July 2016 to July 2017 through July 2020 to July 2021. This period includes three years prior to the pandemic, one year with partial pandemic exposure (2019 to 2020), and one year with full pandemic exposure (2020 to 2021). This allows for an assessment of race-ethnic and age shifts before and during the pandemic.