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US population makes fewest gains in decades, Census Bureau says
[NEW YORK] Population growth in the United States crept along at its slowest pace in decades in 2019, stymied by a sharp decline in the number of new immigrants, fewer births and the graying of America, new estimates from the Census Bureau show.
The bureau released its national and state population estimates Monday, the final yearly snapshot of the country's changing demographics before the decennial census is conducted in 2020.
The numbers serve as a preview of the census counts, which determine everything from how many congressional seats are apportioned to the states to electoral votes and federal funding formulas.
Here are the key findings.
A population flatline for the ages
The US population, which is now 328,239,523, grew by 0.5 per cent from July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019. The natural increase, which factors in the number of births and deaths, was fewer than 1 million — the first time it has dropped below that figure in decades, the Census Bureau said.
William Frey, a noted demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an interview Monday that the percentage increase was the lowest in a century. The growth rate during the most recent decade, about 6.7 per cent, is expected to be the lowest since the government started taking population counts around 1790, he said.
"This is a huge downturn in the nation's growth," Mr Frey said. "This is even lower than the Great Depression."
An immigration slowdown
Census watchers say that one of the biggest reasons for the stagnancy of the population is the decrease in the number of new immigrants, a trend that has continued through President Donald Trump's first three years in office.
The addition of an estimated 595,348 immigrants to the population in 2019 is a stark contrast to three years ago, when the country added more than 1 million immigrants, according to the population data.
"The immigration is really the safety valve for us going forward," Mr Frey said of population growth. "I think that immigration is an important part of what we have to think about going forward."
Millennials delay having children
In 2019, there were 3,791,712 births and 2,835,038 deaths, which meant that 956,674 people were added to the country's population estimate, the smallest increase of the decade. As baby boomers approach retirement and as many millennials wait to have children, the population slowdown is expected to continue, demographers say.
The California exodus
California lost more than 400,000 residents under the age of 18 during the past nine years, according to the Census Bureau. The decline could cost the state one of its 53 seats in the US House of Representatives during the next congressional reapportionment, Frey said.
For the fourth straight year, New York lost population, according to the Census Bureau. It was one of 10 states to go through a decline during the past year, a group that included New Jersey and Connecticut. The top-five states in percentage population gain were Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Texas.
Puerto Rico's population stabilizes
Puerto Rico gained 340 people from 2018 to 2019, which census officials said was the first year that the commonwealth hadn't lost population in several years. The island has been beleaguered by natural and financial storms.
"Though migration between 2018 and 2019 was large enough to increase the population this year, Puerto Rico's population remains below where it was at the start of the decade," Sandra Johnson, a Census Bureau demographer and statistician, said in a statement.