2020 Decennial Census: Ominous Bellweather for U.S. Economy

The U.S. Census Bureau released its first tranche of data from the 2020 decennial census on April 26, 2021.   From 2010 through 2020, the U.S. population grew by only 7.4%, the second slowest rate of growth (second only to 1930 to 1940, covering the Great Depression) since the census was first conducted in 1790.

Maine’s population grew by only 2.6% in the past decade, lower than the national rate, as well as below the 4.2% state growth rate experienced between 2000 and 2010.

A Brookings report parses the initial Census 2020 data, which bears out predictions that Brookings made in a January 2021 analysis.  While the demographic details painted in the January analysis can’t be confirmed until the Census Bureau releases additional information from the 2020 Census, the confirmation of population growth stagnation that Brookings predicted is troubling.  As that analysis noted, “immigration is essential for countering further stagnation.”

And as another recent report notes, without immigration to offset the nation’s declining birth and increasing death rates, our economy will shrink.

The Brookings report on the initial 2020 Census data concludes:

As we digest these and later results of the 2020 census, it is apparent that the United States is becoming a more demographically stagnant nation. How we adapt in the post-pandemic period in terms of childbearing, movement across states, and toward adopting a reasoned immigration policy will determine what kind of country we will become, both demographically and economically, in the decade ahead.