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Census Report: Population Growth Slows, Diversity Increases, Housing Construction Declines


The U.S. population’s growth has lowed to levels not seen since the 1930s, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report, released Thursday. Of all U.S. counties, 52% had smaller populations in 2020 than in 2010.

While there were a lot of interesting factoids in the report, this was an odd year for the Census Bureau due to the COVID-19 pandemic that hit America in March 2020.

What Happened: Since 1990, the fastest-growing states have tended to be in the south or west, and slower growth occurred in the northeast and Midwest, with the interesting exception of North Dakota. Notably, counties with large populations tended to gain more people, while less populated counties often shrunk. Essentially, counties with populations over 100,000 people generally grew, while those under 50,000 often shrunk.

Phoenix, Arizona was among the fastest growing cities, in addition to Denver, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, and five cities in Texas.

In terms of race and ethnicity, the biggest change in the data occurred among non-Hispanic whites, declining from almost 64% in 2010 to about 58% in 2020.

While still comprising most of America, the largest nonwhite groups in 2020 included Hispanics or Latinos (at 18.7%) and Blacks (at 12.1%). The multiracial population particularly blossomed, increasing from 9 million in 2010 to 33.8 million a decade later — a 276% increase.

Regions with the highest racial and ethnic diversity are found in the west and south. Hawaii led the way with the highest diversity index, followed by California and Nevada.

Why It Matters: Many people care about changes to population. Some believe it’s the focal point of our political divisions. Others tie demographic changes to the economy. As the birthrate declined by 4% in 2020 — the sixth straight year of decline — some demographers are concerned.

Without a high birth rate to replace the population, they ask, can the country maintain or expand production levels?

Others are not as concerned. Economists like James Gailbraith and Stephanie Kelton who follow, or are more aligned with, the Modern Monetary Theory position — the belief that deficits don’t matter for monetary sovereign countries like the U.S. (only runaway inflation is a concern) — don’t think that population declines matter so long as America can keep printing money to fund public services, like social security programs, which aid the elderly with investment from younger individuals.

What Else: Economic debate aside, the Census report showed that housing growth grew by only 6% since 2010, a rate that was half that of the prior decade. Some areas still saw significant housing construction, including the south and west.

Other political consequences will flow downstream from the latest report, and the geographic distribution of people greatly impacts America’s politics.

Republicans have outsized control in the Senate, where they are overrepresented in comparison with their constituent population, and have tended to redraw state district races in their favor, thus giving them disproportionate power in state legislatures, per New York Times reporting.

As congressional maps are redrawn based on population size, the new Census report will ultimately lead to more or less seats following population changes.

Several states have already lost House seats over the last year, including Michigan, California, Ohio and New York, with Oregon, Texas and Florida gaining one each.

Photo: Tim Hufner via Unsplash.

This content was originally published here.

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