Population decline is common in states and countries around the world. Several factors contribute to population decline, including people searching for jobs or a lower cost of living in other states.
Americans are moving in rapid numbers, especially in recent years, after families recovered from the recession. Because moving is expensive, many people stayed put until their personal finances or job prospects improved. Additionally, as the baby boomer generation moves into retirement, many are moving to the South for warmth and other low-cost states. Because of this, Florida has one of the most rapidly growing populations.
Businesses who face high taxes, labor costs and a shortage of workers move to states with more favorable business conditions. When these businesses leave a state, they take their jobs with them, attracting more people to their new locations.
Some research indicates that taxes, especially property taxes and income taxes, influence people’s moving decisions. States such as Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming are attractive for tax-conscious citizens because they do not levy a personal income tax. Additionally, those who are concerned about the burden of property taxes will want to stay clear of New Jersey (2.47%), Illinois ((2.30%), New Hampshire (2.20%), and Connecticut (2.11%), the four states who property taxes above 2%.
Population decline has several adverse effects on a population. When skilled workers leave a state, economic growth can slow due to a change in productivity. Additionally, significant population loss threatens states' representation because seats in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College are tied to state population.
States with Population Loss
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 10 states saw their population decline in 2019. Of the 10 states, four were in the Northeast, and three were in the south.
In a few states, like New Jersey and Vermont, a year of population decline isn’t too much of a concern considering both states saw several years of population growth before 2019. However, in states like West Virginia and Illinois, populations have declined for most of the last decade and could cause concern.
Below are the ten states that experienced population loss in the last year. States are ranked by their percentage loss of the total population.
1. West Virginia
- Population loss: 12,144 people
- Population: 1.8 million
- Percent of population: 0.67%
- Population loss: 3,594 people
- Population: 731,000
- Percent of population lost: 0.49%
- Population loss: 51,250 people
- Population: 12.67 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.4%
4. New York
- Population loss: 76,790 people
- Population: 19.45 million
- Percentage of population lost: 0.39%
- Population loss: 4,721 people
- Population 1.42 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.33%
- Population loss: 10,896 people
- Population: 4.65 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.23%
- Population loss: 6,233 people
- Population: 3.57 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.18%
- Population loss: 4,871 people
- Population: 2.98 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.16%
- Population loss: 369 people
- Population: 624,000
- Percentage of population lost: 0.06%
10. New Jersey
- Population loss: 3,835 people
- Population; 8.88 million
- Percent of population lost: 0.04%
As previously mentioned, the cost of living is a significant factor in why people move out of a state. Of the ten states that saw population declines last year, Hawaii, New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey are among the ten states with the highest cost of living.