A recent report from the Census Bureau reads: “The US population grew 0.1% in 2021, the slowest rate since the founding of the nation.”
I think this shouldn’t surprise us, but it’s certainly newsworthy! The population of the United States is approximately 330 million; this means that a growth rate of 0.1% in 2021 has added less than a million to the total number – the first time since 1937 we have added less than a million.
Population growth in the United States has been slowing for years due to three factors: declining fertility, decreasing migration, and increasing mortality due to the aging population. Add to that the COVID-19 pandemic and we have the 2021 record.
In 1900, our population growth percentage was 2%!
We have a mobile population and that is evident when you look at changes in state populations. Changes for a single year (July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021) show that 33 states reported a net gain in 2021 while 17 and the District of Columbia reported losses.
On an absolute basis, Texas, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia recorded the strongest growth. The states that lost the most numbers were California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts.
The Census cautiously reports some statistics of interest: “Anecdotal data from moving companies shows that migration trends are driven by job opportunities, housing affordability and other quality of life issues. Retirement markets, including Florida, Arizona, the Carolinas and Nevada, all posted strong gains, reflecting an acceleration in retirements and early retirements.
It was the first time I encountered the concept of “The Great Resignation”, which refers to the large number of people who move for reasons other than those mentioned above.
Global statistics on COVID-19 put the number of deaths per million at 702, or more than 5.5 million deaths in total. The country with the most deaths per million population is Peru in South America with 6,093 per million, followed by Bulgaria in Europe with 4,646.
The country with the highest number of cumulative COVID-19 deaths is the United States with nearly 818,000 followed by Brazil with nearly 617,000. Eight smaller countries are reporting no cases – mostly island communities such as the Falkland Islands , Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, but also the Holy See, as well as North Korea.
These statistics are reported and aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, but it should be remembered that they are self-reported and some countries may not have the facilities to collect them and others might see an advantage in distorting the facts – North Korea comes to mind! On the other hand, like isolated islands, North Korea is isolated from the outside world.
The presence of COVID-19 in our world will bring changes that we can only imagine now. Will we live with its presence and see new, more dangerous varieties emerge? Won’t populations just slow growth rates, like in the United States, or start to decline?
Neil Snarr is professor emeritus at Wilmington College.