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Census Bureau: N.Y. population loss greatest in nation

AP Photo/Paul SancyaThis April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit.
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AP Photo/Paul Sancya

This April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Census Bureau estimates released this week show the slowest one-year population growth ever for the nation and indicate New York lost more residents than any other state.

Net population growth from 2020 to 2021 was limited by reduced immigration from other countries, a decreased birth rate and an increased death rate, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Census Bureau said.

Year-over-year, the nation’s population grew an estimated 0.1%, the least since the nation was founded, the Census Bureau said.

New York state’s population is estimated to have declined by 319,020 or 1.6% in the year, the largest numeric and percentage loss of any state.

New York was second after California for largest number of people moving out of the state, an estimated 352,185.

New York was third after Florida and Texas for largest net gain from international migration, with an estimated gain of 18,307.

The Census data do not drill down to local levels.

The Empire State has for years been lagging most other states in population growth or even seeing net population loss.

Mark Castiglione, executive director of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission, noted that the Capital Region was one of the few areas of the state outside of New York City that gained population year over year in the 2020 census.

That is unlikely to have entirely reversed in one year, he said, but the region does face challenges to continued growth:

  • An aging population and declining birth rates, particularly in rural areas.
  • Housing costs high enough to discourage domestic immigration in the more populous counties.
  • Limitations placed on international immigration, typically a driver of the region’s population growth.

Castiglione noted that estimates are typically more accurate the closer they are to the previous decennial census. So 2019 estimates would be less accurate and 2021 estimates would be more accurate, under normal circumstances. But the 2020 decennial census results were themselves partly based on estimates, which might affect the accuracy of estimates based on those results.

The Census Bureau made the same point itself as it released the data, and recommended that the numbers not be compared with previous years.

But the Bureau said the trends underlying the numbers continue.

“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,” said 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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