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How COVID-19 affected the population in 2021  

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on everybody. People had to adjust to new lifestyles and made some life-changing decisions to adapt to what has been called the “new normal.” Therefore, it is no surprise that 2021 has also been witness to some significant evolutions in the population. The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its Vintage 2021 Estimate which underlines how dramatic these changes have been in the past year. 

Natural decrease in most U.S. counties

A natural decrease occurs when a county’s population experiences more deaths than births over a given period.

During uncertain times, such as a war – or a pandemic – couples tend to postpone their project of having children. Therefore, it is no surprise that the birth rate dropped during the pandemic. Although the number of daily births has been slowing down consistently since 2008, the annual average births per day declined by 4.06% between 2019 and 2020, compared to 1% or less in previous years.

Besides, the mortality rate increased significantly in 2021. During the pandemic, the United States suffered over 1 million excess deaths (the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods). This number includes deaths directly related to the COVID-19 virus. However, it also shows numbers higher than usual for fatalities related to other ailments, including heart disease, hypertension, and dementia, among others.

As a result, over 73% of U.S. counties experienced a natural decrease in 2021, up from 45.5% in 2019 and 55.5% in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2021 estimates of population and components of change. The Northeast is particularly afflicted, with all counties in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island having experienced a natural decrease in the past year.

New migration patterns

The pandemic and related lockdowns caused many to rethink their life plans. More employees than ever are now working from home for the foreseeable future, either full-time or on a hybrid schedule. This shift in lifestyle led many to change their living arrangements permanently. They were driven in strides to leave overcrowded and expensive urban centers for more affordable locals, offering more room to install a home office and living space as well as outdoor areas.

Los Angeles County, California, experienced the most significant net domestic migration loss (179,757 residents), followed by New York County, New York (113,642), with people moving from one area to another within the United States. For the first time, micropolitan regions are growing at a faster rate than metropolitan counties.

Unsurprisingly, the cities with the highest positive net domestic migration are going through some growing pains. Fueled by increased demand, low inventory, and historically low-interest rates, the real estate market is reaching new highs. Property prices have increased dramatically nationwide, but the most attractive urban centers are also the ones where home values have soared the most, such as Dallas (24.97% increase in year-over-year median sale price) or Texas, which is also home to four of the top 10 largest-gaining metro areas. Additionally, a large migration to Miami caused the housing market to skyrocket and push Miami to the least affordable housing market in the nation. Meanwhile, cities that lost the most inhabitants are among the few to see their property prices decrease, including Chicago (-2.69% in year-over-year median sale price) and Oakland, CA (-2.52%), which experienced some of the most considerable metropolitan net domestic migration losses.

Even with the unrolling of vaccines and medical treatment for those affected by the virus, COVID-19 will likely have a lasting impact on our lives and demographics.

After graduating with a Master’s degree in marketing from Sciences Po Paris and a career as a real estate appraiser, Alix Barnaud renewed her lifelong passion for writing. She is a content writer and copywriter specializing in real estate and finds endless fascination in the connection between real estate, economic trends, and social changes. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, yoga, and traveling.