Since the start of the pandemic, 16 states have seen population declines, a trend encouraged by lower immigration, soaring costs in some states, aging baby boomers moving to warmer climates and low rates of birth rate.
To identify the 16 states where the population has declined since the start of the pandemic, 24/7 Wall St. calculated the one-year population change from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 using data from the US Census Bureau. The average number of new daily cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days to February 2 comes from federal, state and local sources.
According to census data, fewer people moved nationwide during the April 2020 to April 2021 period than at any time since the federal government began reporting data in 1948. Although fewer people moved, some states where the population declined during the pandemic were already experiencing population declines, and COVID-19 served to accentuate this movement.
Population declines have been greatest in the coastal states of New York and California, among the most densely populated states in the country. New York lost 319,000 people and California 260,000 in those 12 months. (Longer term, this is how each state’s population has changed over the past 100 years.)
These two states are also among the most expensive in the country. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that financial pressures are one of the main reasons Americans moved during the pandemic. New York and California have also imposed some of the toughest public health restrictions in the country during the pandemic. Businesses and schools have been closed longer in these two states than in some other states.
Until the pandemic, California, Massachusetts and Ohio had increased their populations over the previous decade. Both former states had enjoyed a technology boom that had attracted new residents. The pandemic has imposed restrictions on the number of skilled immigrants employed in technology, which has hurt this sector.
In states like Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia, population losses have been occurring for much longer. and have continued since the start of the pandemic.
Of the 10 most densely populated states in the country, seven – New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania – have seen population declines. (Some of these states are home to America’s 50 largest cities.)
There are also other consequences of population decline in some states. A drop in population could mean the loss of seats in the House of Representatives for the state. A shrinking population can also make it harder for a state to attract business.
Click here for the 16 states where the population has declined since the start of the pandemic