Population growth slows to a crawl due to COVID

Washington state’s steady population growth is another casualty of COVID-19, according to recent figures from the U.S. Census.

From July 1, 2020, through July 1, 2021, the Evergreen State’s population ticked up 19,900 for a growth rate of 0.3%. The state ranked 24th among the 50 states. The U.S. population grew by only 392,665 in the past year – or 0.1%. That is a slower rate than any other year since the nation began gathering statistics.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

The state has grown by nearly 15% over the past 10 years to more than 7.7 million. But the jump didn’t net Washington any more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which remains at 10.

The Census Bureau estimates a statistically insignificant net loss of 29 people in Washington between 2020-21, as compared to a net gain of 37,000 in 2019. Domestic migration was a significant factor in the state’s steady growth before the pandemic. The state had the seventh-highest domestic migration total – 336,000 – from 2010-19. Even so, Washington fared better than many states. Between 2020-21, 17 states and the District of Columbia fell in total population. Texas had the largest cumulative numeric gain in the past year, and Idaho saw the fastest annual and cumulative population increase. New York reported the largest annual and cumulative population decline.

COVID has claimed the lives of more than 9,800 people in Washington state. Nationwide, more than 818,000 Americans have been killed by the pandemic.