Another Year of Trepid U.S. Population Growth

Another Year of Trepid U.S. Population Growth

The population of the United States grew by 0.73 percent in 2014—an addition of about 2.3 million people, according to estimates the U.S. Census Bureau released this week.

As of Jan. 1, 2015, the bureau estimates the United States will be home to 320,090,857 people. Across the nation, one birth occurs every eight seconds, and one death every 12 seconds, on average.

Those figures don’t mean the country is enjoying a population boom: Half of the growth was due to immigration rather than childbirth. And while the United States currently experiences more births than deaths, the estimated total fertility rate—the number of children a woman will have in her lifetime, on average—remains at just 1.9 births per woman. That is slightly below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, a rate last seen in 2007, before the recession.

“A lot of young couples have either delayed having children, or they’ve delayed getting married altogether,” said Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute. “Recessions are always bad for the birthrate.”

In spite of the relatively low birthrate, the U.S. workforce is projected to increase rapidly in coming years thanks largely to young immigrants, the Population Reference Bureau announced this month. People are constantly migrating to and from the United States, but more people come in than go out: In terms of net migration, one new person comes to live in the United States every 33 seconds, on average. (The estimate includes illegal immigrants.)

The worldwide population grew about 1.08 percent in 2014, according to the Census Bureau. On Jan. 1 it expects the global population to be 7.21 billion, an increase of 77 million from the year before.

Most of the growth is occurring in Africa, where the fertility rate (4.7 births per woman in 2013) is by far the world’s highest. Africa’s population is projected to grow to 2.4 billion in 2050, up from 1.1 billion today.

But Europe is experiencing the opposite trend: Over the same time period, its population is projected to drop to 726 million from 740 million, due to the continent’s low fertility rate (1.6 births per woman).

Mosher said European nations are experiencing economic stagnation as their working populations age: “In Germany they’re converting maternity wards to geriatric clinics because there are no women coming into the hospitals to have babies.”

America’s low birthrate also could slow its economic recovery, Mosher believes. Fewer births means fewer young people going to school, filling jobs, starting businesses, and producing (and consuming) goods and services: “A lot of people are worried about too many children. What they should be worried about is too few.”

The Census Bureau also released state population figures. By adding an average of 803 new residents per day in the first half of 2014, Florida passed New York as the nation’s third most populous state, behind California and Texas. Florida had 19.9 million residents as of July 2014.

North Dakota, Nevada, and Texas ranked as the fastest growing states. North Dakota has seen an influx of population due to an ongoing oil boom in its western plains, and the city of Fargo, on its eastern edge, is enjoying a strong economy that has attracted families, young adults, and immigrants.

West Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, and Connecticut saw slight declines in population.

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: January 6, 2015