Special Report

The States That Had More Deaths Than Births in 2021

The U.S. population grew at the slowest pace in its history in 2021, according to the Census Bureau. Estimates released late December 2021 show that the population grew by only 0.1%, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The population can grow by two means — migration and natural change. Figures released late March show that half of all states — and nearly three-quarters of all counties — experienced more deaths than births between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, meaning a natural decrease. 

The Census notes that the likely cause is the COVID-19 pandemic. The greatest number of states that experienced a natural decrease in the previous decade was eight, in the 2019-2020 period, which already included a few months of the pandemic. Previously four or less states experienced a natural decrease in a single year.

As for other longer-term trends, births in most states had been declining since 2016. Between 2020 and 2021, however, all states experienced a drop in births.

To identify the 25 states that experienced more deaths than births, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. Census Bureau data on state populations and the components leading to population changes from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021. All data came from the census.

The region with the most widespread natural decrease is the Northeast, with seven of nine Northeastern states experiencing more deaths than births in 2021. Meanwhile, in the West, only three out of 13 states experienced natural decrease. 

Not all states with a natural decrease experienced overall population decline. The population declined in just eight of the 25 states that experienced more deaths than births, as they benefited from positive net migration. In fact, Delaware and Montana are listed among the top five states where population has grown the most since the pandemic.

And in Florida, the state with the largest decline due to natural change, the population increased by nearly 1%. While there were only 210,000 births compared to 255,0000 deaths, contributing to a 45,000 population decline due to natural changes, Florida’s population grew from 21.57 million to 21.78 million as the Sunshine State has been attracting new residents. (Florida is also projected to be among the top five states that will grow the most in the next 20 years.)

Click here to see the states that had more deaths than births in 2021

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