Report: A third of states lost population in 2021 | Tuesday Morning Coffee

Pa. didn’t lose, but was one of the five slowest-growing states, costing it a congressional seat, new data show

April 26, 2022 7:04 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
The pace of population growth nationwide was five times slower in 2021 than it was over the proceeding decade, with 17 states showing declines last year, according to new data compiled by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

While Pennsylvania evaded population loss in 2021, it was still among the five slowest-growing states (0.23 percent) over the last decade, along with Connecticut, Michigan (0.19 percent each) and Ohio and Wyoming (also 0.23 percent each), the Pew analysis showed.

Because of its sluggish population growth, the commonwealth lost a congressional seat during the latest round of redistricting, dropping from 18 seats to 17. That also shrinks the state’s number of Electoral College votes from 20 to 19 (one for each congressional seat, and one for each United States senator).

While the growth rate nationwide has been slowing for years, it’s been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Pew. But it wasn’t the only factor.

“In recent years, increasing mortality because of aging as well as declining immigration and falling fertility rates were to blame. However, from July 2020 to July 2021, COVID-19 accelerated this trend. For example, restrictions to curb the spread of the virus contributed to a drop in the number of newcomers from abroad,” the analysis reads.

“And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were at least 474,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 over the same 12 months. These deaths and declining immigration contributed to historically small annual population gains in the U.S. (fewer than 1 million for the first time since 1937), according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” it continued.

A map showing U.S. population change over the last decade
(The Pew Charitable Trusts)

That sluggish population growth over the past decade was particularly noticeable in the northeast and midwest, while the south and west were home to the fastest-growing states, trends that mostly continued in 2021, the Pew analysis found.

According to Pew, 10 of the 17 states that lost population in 2021 were in the northeast and midwest. New York charted the largest drop, losing 319,000 people since mid-2020, a decline of 1.58 percent, according to Pew.

Conversely, Idaho and Utah charted the fastest growth rates in 2021, as well as over the last decade, according to Pew. In 2021, Idaho saw its population grow by 2.88 percent, adding 53,000 people — no small potatoes (sorry, couldn’t help it).

Utah’s population, meanwhile, grew by 1.72 percent, adding 56,000 new residents, according to Pew.

(Getty Images)

And if you think these population contractions and expansions don’t have real-world impacts, think again:

A shrinking or slow-growing populace can be both a cause and an effect of weakened economic prospects. The states with long-term population declines all fell near the bottom of economic growth over the 12-year recovery from the Great Recession.

Less economic activity can limit state revenue collections. Though a smaller population can lead to a reduction in some types of spending, it also means there are fewer residents to help cover the costs of long-standing commitments, such as debt and state employee retirement benefits.

On the other hand, states with fast-growing populations typically have strong labor force growth, which fuels economic activity and helps generate tax revenue to fund any increased spending on infrastructure, education, and other government services.

Some other highlights, according to Pew:

  • “Among the 17 states where population declined over the year, losses were greatest in New York (-1.58%), Illinois (-0.89%), Hawaii (-0.71%) and California (-0.66%). Losses in these states were driven by people moving away.
  • “Four states experienced population declines because more people moved out than in, and more people died than were born: Massachusetts, Mississippi, Michigan, and New Mexico. The data does not separate deaths related to COVID-19 from others.
  • “Aside from states with declines, population grew slower over the year than over the 2010-20 period in 19 states. Among them, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon experienced the biggest slowdown in growth compared with their decade-long pace.
  • “After Idaho and Utah, population grew the fastest in Montana (1.66%), Arizona (1.37%), South Carolina (1.17%), Delaware (1.16%), and Texas (1.06%). Gains in each came mostly from new residents moving into the state.
  • “Fourteen states grew more quickly than their 10-year paces. Idaho, Montana, Maine and New Hampshire sped up the most.
  • “Nationwide, gains from international migration exceeded gains from the natural increase in 2021. It was the first time that newcomers from other countries contributed more to population growth than gains from births in a given year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” Pew researchers found.
GOP U.S. Senate hopefuls David McCormick (L) and Mehmet Oz (R) | Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek

Our Stuff.
With weeks to go until the May 17 primary election, five Pennsylvania Republicans campaigning for U.S. Senate hit the debate stage on MondayMarley Parish reports.

During a news conference at the Capitol on Monday, educators warned of ‘financial havoc’ from rising special education and pension costs. They called on lawmakers to help, I report.

The Community College of Philadelphia and the Philly Housing Authority have teamed up to offer students affordable housing, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

Veteran federal prosecutor Jacqueline C. Romero, a former board member of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: The bribery case against Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, which ended in a mistrial last week, is just one more example of the selective and racist prosecution of Black elected officials, opinion regular Michael Coard opines. And misinformation is deadly — what are we going to do about it? Kathie Obradovich, editor of our sibling site, the Iowa Capital Dispatchtakes up the not-at-all rhetorical question.

Josh Shapiro about to speak a press conference
Attorney General and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro at a press conference outside Harrisburg on March 24, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

He doesn’t have a primary opponent, but Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro is still spending big on TV in his bid for governor, the Inquirer reports.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz is touting his endorsement from former President Donald Trump, even as he continues to face questions about his residency, the Post-Gazette reports.

The Democratic U.S. Senate candidates, meanwhile, took questions on energy and other topics during a Monday debate at Dickinson CollegePennLive reports.

Democratic Senate hopeful Conor Lamb claimed a Philly ward endorsement that didn’t quite happen that way. BillyPenn explains the tribal weirdness.

PoliticsPA asks its readers who won Monday night’s GOP U.S. Senate debate.

Birds have died on a fourth Lancaster County farm because of the avian flu outbreakLancasterOnline reports.

Pennsylvania’s child welfare system has come in for scathing criticism in a new report, the York Daily Record reports.

The coal industry is suing to block Pennsylvania’s new carbon-pricing scheme, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).

Erie pol Tyler Titus is running for a spot for the Democratic State Committee, GoErie reports.

Roll Call memorializes the life of the late U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utahwho died Saturday, aged 88.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
The House comes in at 11 a.m. today. Bust out the waliking shoes, folks.
9 a.m., 140 Main Capitol: House Appropriations & Education committees.
9:30 a.m., 60 East Wing: House Finance Committee
9:30 am., G-50 Irvis: House Health Committee
10 a.m., 515 Ryan:  House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee
10 a.m., 523 Irvis: House Transportation Committee
11:30 a.m. East Wing: Dance Teacher Certification rally, apparently including dancing lawmakers
11:30 a.m., Main Rotunda: Reps. Jennifer O’Mara, Sara Innammorato and others on National Infertility Awareness Week
12:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: Clean Power PA and lawmakers on RGGI and clean energy
1:30 p.m., Capitol Steps: Rally for drivers licenses for people without documentation
Call of the Chair: House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
Call of the Chair: House Human Services Committee
Call of the Chair: House Appropriations Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
And limber up those checkbooks.
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Mindy Fee
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Jason Silvis
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Torren Ecker
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Leanne Krueger
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Martell Covington
8:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Liz Hanbidge
8:30 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Gerald Mullery
11 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Dan Frankel
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Pat Browne
12 p.m.: Luncheon for House candidate Roni Green
5 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Joe Emrick
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Mike Zabel
5:30 pm.: Reception for Rep. Manny Guzman
6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Barry Jozwiak
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a brain-melting $26,000 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf is scheduled to join lawmakers and advocates from CeaseFire PA for an 12 p.m. event.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s a classic from Australia’s The Saints. It’s ‘I’m Stranded.’ And I was remiss in not stopping to mark the passing of the band’s lead singer, Chris Bailey, who died on April 9, aged 65. This obituary from The Guardian really pinpoints what made this band so special.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Chicago beat Philadelphia 3-1 in Monday night’s lone NHL contest. The Flyers are in last place in the Metropolitan Division as the regular season winds down.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.