Population Matters

Are the brakes on US population growth?

Are the brakes on US population growth?

The US population grew by just 0.7 per cent to a little over 323 million in the year to July 2016. This is the lowest population increase since 1937. A number of states saw net declines in population, including Illinois and, for the first time, New York.

Figures released by the Census Bureau yesterday show that states in the west and south tend to show the most growth. Internal migration drivers, such as older people moving to warmer states like Florida and workers pursuing job opportunities, are significant factors in the individual states’ changes. The only state in the union with a majority of the population over 65 is Sumter County in Florida. Utah is the country’s fastest growing state.

At nearly, one million, international immigration was down 4 per cent on 2015, while birth rates remain low and death rates are slightly higher than previous years. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institute told the Wall Street Journal

“the slowdown since last year has to do with a decline in the rate of natural increase . . . which is a result of a downturn in births and rise in deaths. . . It’s the aging of the population that is leading to lower national growth rates.”

A counter on the Census Bureau’s home page nicely illustrates current population dynamics in the US:

  • One birth every eight seconds
  • One death every 12 seconds
  • One international migrant (net) every 29 seconds
  • Net increase of one person every 13 seconds

At 16.4 tonnes of CO2 per person, US citizens have the highest greenhouse gas emissions of any large, developed nation (other than Saudi Arabia, only citizens of tiny states such as Luxembourg and Qatar produce more). The US’s energy consumption is higher than any nation except China (which has four times its population) and it is the world’s largest oil consumer.