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As nation's population growth slows, Colorado and the West buck the trend

Denver Business Journal Article

Population growth in the U.S. has slowed to its lowest level in at least 120 years, but Colorado and the West have continued to draw migrants from other parts of the country, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The country as a whole grew about .35%, or about 1.1 million people, between 2019 and 2020. Among individual states, though, Colorado saw the twelfth-highest growth at .85%, which translates to just under 50,000 people. The state has been growing for years and has added about 760,000 people since 2010, the eighth-highest in the country. These new population figures include changes due to births, deaths and migration. A Brookings Institution report attributes part of the decrease to the pandemic, which brought more deaths and more travel restrictions to most of 2020.

Any increases in population indicate where people are heading to weather the Covid-19 pandemic, since the Census Bureau numbers are based on estimates collected this year. These estimates are independent from the 2020 census, which hasn't been released yet. The data show that areas thatare typically more populated – the Northeast, California and parts of the Midwest – lost population, but areas like the West and South grew.

The data release comes as the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the Denver metro saw one of the highest jumps in personal income between 2018 and 2019 among large cities. Experts predict a 5.4% increase in personal income this year.

In terms of just net migration, Denver County alone gained 7,200 residents between 2014 and 2018 according to the most recent migration figures from the Census Bureau. The city has gained 1,200 net residents from California and about 1,100 from the state of New York, followed by Florida and Illinois.

New York saw a drop of .65% in total population this year, the country's largest and a loss of 126,000 people. New York was followed by by Illinois, which lost .63% of its total population due to migration or deaths. Other states in the West — in particular Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and Utah — saw the greatest yearly growth in terms of overall population, with each state growing more than 1% from 2019. “These statistics paint a portrait of a nation that is experiencing unprecedented growth stagnation, even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit,” said Brookings Institute senior fellow William Frey in an analysis published last week. “The exceptionally low growth rate from 2019 to 2020 reflects the pandemic’s impact over part of that year.” Colorado, as well as other western states like Arizona, Oregon and Montana, stand to gain one congressional seat, according to the Brookings analysis.

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