The United State Census Bureau has released some interesting data about population shifts that occurred in 2021 due, in part, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. First up, the Census Bureau’s data shows a staggering 73% of America’s 3,143 counties experienced what is known as “natural decrease” in 2021.
Natural decrease occurs in a defined area (such as a county) when more people died than were born. Astonishingly, every single county in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island experienced natural decrease in 2021, driven by increased mortality from the pandemic, fewer births, and an aging population.
Yet, in 2021, U.S. counties saw their populations shift for another reason: migration. The Census Bureau’s data shows Americans were packing up and moving from one place in the country to another at an accelerated rate. The Census Bureau says that this migration was a shift that saw Americans moving from larger counties to small and medium-sized ones. What this meant is that, overall, 65.6% of American counties saw an increase in population as Americans abandoned larger cities for smaller ones.
The biggest loser due to these trends was Los Angeles County, California, which saw a decrease of 159,621 residents in 2021. Texas, on the other hand, had a banner year: Half of the top 10 U.S. counties that saw the largest net population gains in 2021 were located in the Lone Star State. Together Collin, Fort Bend, Williamson, Denton, and Montgomery counties saw a population increase totaling 145,663.
You can check out the Census Bureau’s map below, which shows America’s population changes on the county level for 2021. That dark green represents the counties that saw the largest population gains, while the dark purple shows the counties that had the greatest population loss.