Home / Population and society / Articles / Population change in 2020: The most deaths, fewest births, and fewest new immigrants in a decade

The US population was an estimated 329 million on July 1, 2020, growing by 1.2 million in a year, according to newly released estimates from the Census Bureau. This annual growth was a decrease of 22% since 2019. The 0.4% annual growth rate is the lowest since 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic.

The Census Bureau conducts various surveys, estimates, and counts that yield different results. The data comes from the Population Estimates Program, which annually estimates population on July 1. It is based on the 2010 census.

National population growth is calculated by combining natural population change and immigration.

Natural population change is the number of births less the number of deaths. There were 3.7 million births in 2020, a decrease of 0.6% since 2019. The nation recorded 3.1 million deaths, an increase of 8%. (Estimates are based on July 1 populations, and excludes deaths that occurred in the second half of 2020.) As a result, natural population change led to a net increase of 677,000 people, dropping 27% from 2019 population growth and 54% from 2011.

Population growth from net international migration increased from 795,000 in 2011 to more than 1 million in 2016 — then fell to a decade-low 477,000 in 2020.

Meanwhile, immigration accounted for an increasing share of total population growth. Immigrants contributed 35% of total population growth in 2011 and increased to a high of 46% growth in 2016. The percentage of immigrants of total population growth declined to 41% in 2020.

Declines in natural population growth and immigration slowed population growth.

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The Census data also shows national demographic changes, breaking down states into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.

Northeastern states lost citizens for the second consecutive year. The population decline in the Northeast almost doubled from 82,000 in 2019 to 153,000 in 2020. While the region gained 110,000 people from international migration and 52,000 from natural population growth, 315,000 moved to other regions. The greatest populations drops were in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Midwestern states also lost citizens for the first time. The Midwest population dropped by 23,000 people in 2020 after gaining 77,000 in 2019. Illinois had the largest decline: 113,000 people left in 2020, more than the 23,000 people it gained through natural population growth and the 11,000 new immigrants.

Meanwhile, people have moved to the West and the South. Florida, Texas, and Arizona have the greatest combined domestic migration and immigration gains.

A decade-high eight states and Puerto Rico experienced negative natural growth. West Virginia experienced more deaths than births every year for the entire decade. Maine experienced negative natural growth in all but one year since 2011. New Hampshire, Vermont, and Puerto Rico had negative natural growth starting in 2017. Florida, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Rhode Island first experienced negative natural growth this past year.

Texas had 157,000 more births than deaths in 2020.

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National Population Totals: 2010-2020