10 largest US cities see population changes in 1st full year of COVID, data shows

People walk through Times Square on March 11, 2022 in New York two years after the pandemic. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at how the 10 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States have changed over the first full year of the pandemic, from mid-2020 to mid-2021, according to US Census Bureau population estimates. released Thursday. Population estimates calculate births and deaths, as well as national and international migration.

New York City

The exodus from America’s largest metropolitan areas was led by New York City, which lost nearly 328,000 people. The decline was driven by people moving elsewhere in the United States, even as the metro area gained new foreign residents and births exceeded deaths. Its population has dropped to 19.7 million.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles lost nearly 176,000 residents, the second largest drop among US metropolitan areas. As in New York, births have exceeded deaths and there has been an increase in the number of international residents. But that wasn’t even close enough to overcome the loss of tens of thousands of residents who moved out. Its population fell to 12.9 million.


The loss of more than 91,000 residents in greater Chicago was caused by people who moved away. As in New York and Los Angeles, births exceeded deaths in Chicago, but the increase was much smaller than in the other two metropolitan areas. Its population was 9.5 million.


The Dallas area grew by more than 97,000 people, the most of any metropolitan area in the United States in 2021. Nearly two-thirds of the growth came from people moving in from elsewhere, and the rest came from births. Its population jumped to 7.7 million.


The 69,000 residents Houston gained was the third highest of any US metropolitan area. Births accounted for more than half of the growth, although the migration of new residents was not far behind. More than a third of migration to the Houston area came from outside the United States. Houston’s population was 7.2 million.

washington d.c.

The nation’s capital lost nearly 29,000 residents in its metropolitan area. A net gain of 25,000 births over deaths was not enough to overcome the tens of thousands who left the region. Its population was 6.3 million.

philadelphia cream

Greater Philadelphia lost over 13,000 residents. About three-quarters of the loss came from people leaving, and the rest was due to more deaths than births. The metropolitan area had 6.2 million inhabitants.


The Atlanta area grew by nearly 43,000 residents. Nearly 60% of new residents were people who had moved from elsewhere, while the rest were from births. It had 6.1 million inhabitants.


Greater Miami has shrunk by more than 34,000 residents. Residents leaving the metropolitan area accounted for more than double the substantial growth of new residents arriving from abroad. Deaths accounted for about 5% of population loss. The metro had 6 million inhabitants.


Greater Phoenix saw the second-largest population gain among U.S. metros, jumping more than 78,000. Almost all of the growth was driven by residents from other places who settled in the Valley of the Sun. More than in Dallas or Houston, the natural increase in births represented only a very small part of the growth—about 10%. Its population has grown to 4.9 million.

Previous New York City's Re-established Neighborhood Safety Teams Are Already Making a Difference
Next Not forgotten: Community pays tribute to homeless man killed in New York