Census Shows U.S. Population Grew at Slowest Rate Since 1930s

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Author: Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Census Shows U.S. Population Grew at Slowest Rate Since 1930s

When Rachel Abroms and her husband, a psychologist with the Defense Department, began looking at houses a few years ago in Coronado, on a peninsula in the San Diego Bay, even a starter home of about 1,500 square feet cost around a million dollars. So when her husband was offered a position in Boise, Idaho, they decided to move. They eventually bought a house that was twice as big for half the price.

“It’s more space,” said Ms. Abroms of the house they bought in 2019. As for Boise, “it’s small and it’s manageable, and it’s pleasant.”

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Another defining feature of the decade was the fall in immigration. The rates of new immigrants had been rising for years, since a modern low in the 1970s. But they mostly leveled off after the Great Recession in 2008, and went into decline during the coronavirus pandemic, said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Research Center.

Mr. Passel said the drivers were a worsening economy in the United States and tougher enforcement on the border with Mexico, especially after 2010. Also important, he said, were Mexico’s improving economy and its own lower birthrate.

“The change in the Mexican flows is really what caused immigration to level off,” Mr. Passel said, noting that Mexico had been the biggest source of immigration to the United States for years. He has calculated that, throughout the decade, there were more unauthorized Mexican immigrants leaving the United States than arriving.

The tapering of immigration over all has added to population woes in some states. Over the last decade, three had outright population declines: West Virginia, Mississippi and Illinois.

Illinois came close to breaking even, but still lost. Compared with the century’s first decade, Illinois had 15 percent fewer births and lost nearly 40 percent more residents to other states. Between 1990 and 2010, the state’s foreign-born population doubled to 1.8 million, but there was little growth after that. The state lost a congressional seat in the previous decennial census as well.

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