DC had largest percentage drop in population in nation

More people are leaving D.C. than in any other area of the country.

The District had the largest percentage drop in population in the nation in the last year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data.



The population in D.C. declined by 2.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The new data showed that 20,043 people left D.C., making the population 670,050 in 2021. There were 690,093 people living in D.C. in 2020.

These numbers include information from July 2020 through July 2021.

The U.S. Census Bureau released data on population changes. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)

Those in D.C. age 18 and older account for 81.2% of the population in 2021.

The census bureau said the decline in the population of the nation’s capital can be “attributed to negative net domestic migration (-23,030), which was large enough to offset gains from natural increase (2,171) and net international migration (1,128).”

D.C. ranked 7th among states and the District with the largest number of residents who left over the past year. New York topped that list with a drop of 319,020 residents, followed by California with a decline of 261,902 people.

The census bureau said 17 states and D.C. lost population, and 11 of those had losses of more than 10,000 people. The bureau called it a “historically large number of states to lose population in year.”

Overall, in the U.S. the population grew by just 0.1% or 392,665 people. This was the lowest rate since its founding 245 years ago.

Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the U.S. Census Bureau, said the nation’s slow rate of population grow can be attributed to several factors.

“Population growth has been slowing for years because of lower birth rates and decreasing net international migration, all while mortality rates are rising due to the aging of the nation’s population,” Wilder said. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

Overall, 33 states saw population increases. Idaho, Utah and Montana had the largest percent growth and Texas, Florida and Arizona had the largest numeric growth, according to census data.

Nearby Delaware, known for being tax-friendly to retirees, ranked No. 6 in the percentage of growth it saw. Delaware saw a 1.2% increase, or 11,498 more people from 991,866 people in July 2020 and 1,003,384 in July 2021.

Across the nation, the voting-age resident population, adults age 18 and over, grew to 258.3 million, making up 77.8% of the population in 2021, according to the census data.

Click to enlarge the graphic below to see how states compare.

How Does Your State Compare?[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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