Milwaukee County’s population dropped by more than 10,000 in 2021

The Milwaukee skyline is visible from the corner of Fond du Lac Avenue and Country Aire Drive on the east side of Germantown.

Milwaukee County’s population shrank by 10,090 in 2021 even as the number of births exceeded deaths and the county added more than 700 out-of-country residents, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Natural population increase and immigration were not enough to offset the net loss of 12,764 residents due to internal migration, according to census data. Overall, Milwaukee County’s population declined by nearly 1.1%.

Estimates are as of July 1, 2021 and are compared to the same period in 2020.

The rest of the metro area, made up of Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, saw its population increase by nearly 0.5%, adding 2,979 residents. These three counties have a population of 638,428 compared to 928,059 in Milwaukee.

WOW counties experienced a natural population decline of 1,268 as deaths exceeded births. They added 216 residents through international migration and 3,984 through domestic migration.

Ozaukee County led the WOW counties with a population increase of 1%. Waukesha County rose nearly 0.4% and Washington County just over 0.3%.

Elsewhere in southeast Wisconsin, Walworth County rose 0.28% while Sheboygan fell 0.16%, Kenosha fell 0.2% and Racine fell 0.28%.

As a state, Wisconsin’s population increased by 3,585 or 0.06%. Dane County rose 0.29% and Brown County 0.32%. Vilas County, which is in northern Wisconsin and includes the Eagle River region, had the fastest growth at 1.92% or 444 residents.

As a region, Metro Milwaukee’s population decreased by 7,111 or 0.45%, ranking 326and out of 384 metropolitan areas across the country. Among the 100 largest metros, Milwaukee’s population decline was the 15and worse. Of the 10 closest metros by population to Milwaukee, only New Orleans had a worse decline, down 0.68%.

Milwaukee wasn’t alone among Midwestern metropolitan areas to see a population decline. Chicago fell 0.95%, losing 91,671 residents, Detroit fell 0.47%, Minneapolis-St. Paul fell 0.05%, St. Louis lost 0.32%, Pittsburgh lost 0.58% and Cleveland fell 0.46%.

At the same time, a number of metros in the Midwest experienced growth. Cincinnati rose 0.1%, Kansas City rose 0.27%, Columbus, Ohio rose 0.47%, Indianapolis rose 0.62%, Grand Rapids rose 0.31% and Madison increased by 0.25%.

Des Moines led the way with a population increase of 1.17%, adding 8,303 residents.

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