U.S. Census Bureau Report Says More Counties Saw Population Gains Than Losses in 2023 | Trade and Industry Development

U.S. Census Bureau Report Says More Counties Saw Population Gains Than Losses in 2023

Mar 18, 2024

More U.S. counties experienced population gains than losses in 2023, as counties in the South saw faster growth and more Northeast and Midwest counties had population losses turn to gains, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2023 estimates of population and components of change released recently.

Approximately 60% (1,876) of U.S. counties gained population from 2022 to 2023, an increase from the 52% of counties (1,649) that experienced population growth between 2021 and 2022. Among the nation's 3,144 counties, the average change from 2022 to 2023 was 0.29%, up from 0.17% the previous year.

“Domestic migration patterns are changing, and the impact on counties is especially evident,” said Lauren Bowers, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Branch. “Areas which experienced high levels of domestic out-migration during the pandemic, such as in the Midwest and Northeast, are now seeing more counties with population growth. Meanwhile, county population growth is slowing down out west, such as in Arizona and Idaho.”

This was the first time since 2020 that more counties in the Midwest had population gains (542) than losses (513), narrowing the average annual change among the region's 1,055 counties to a loss of 0.02% from a loss of 0.09% a year earlier.

While the Northeast still had more counties losing (113) than gaining (105) population in 2023, population loss among its counties moderated compared to the previous year. The average annual change among the region's 218 counties slowed from -0.24% to -0.07% in 2023. The number of counties with population increases rose from 83 in 2022 to 105 in 2023.

On average, counties in the South experienced faster growth in 2023 than in 2022. Among its 1,422 counties, the average annual change was 0.56%, up from 0.31% the prior year. Approximately 67% (950) of the counties in the region experienced population gains in 2023, up from 59% (836) in 2022.

The West, whose average population change ranked highest among the four regions in 2022, fell behind the South in 2023. The average annual change among the region's 449 counties slowed from 0.51% to 0.34%. 

On average, large and moderate-sized counties grew while small counties got smaller. Among the 618 counties with populations over 100,000, the average change from 2022 to 2023 was 0.76%. Moderate-sized counties with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 grew 0.36% on average. Conversely, among the 741 smallest counties in the nation, those with populations below 10,000, the average annual decrease was 0.27% in 2023 compared to 0.35% the previous year.

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