California Remains Most Populous State

California remains the most populous state in the nation from new figures by the U.S. Census Department.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2021 national and state population estimates and components of change, the population of the United States grew in the past year by 392,665, or 0.1%, the lowest rate since the nation’s founding. The slow rate of growth can be attributed to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden State remains on top with 39,237,836 residents as of July 1, 2021, almost 10 million more than second-place Texas.

“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,” said Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “Now, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, this combination has resulted in a historically slow pace of growth.”

Since April 1, 2020 (Census Day), the nation’s population increased from 331,449,281 to 331,893,745, a gain of 444,464, or 0.13%.

Between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the nation’s growth was due to natural increase (148,043), which is the number of excess births over deaths, and net international migration (244,622). This is the first time that net international migration (the difference between the number of people moving into the country and out of the country) has exceeded natural increase for a given year.

The voting-age resident population, adults age 18 and over, grew to 258.3 million, comprising 77.8% of the population in 2021.

The South, with a population of 127,225,329, was the most populous of the four regions (encompassing 38.3% of the total national population) and was the only region that had positive net domestic migration of 657,682 (the movement of people from one area to another within the United States) between 2020 and 2021. The Northeast region, the least populous of the four regions with a population of 57,159,838 in 2021, experienced a population decrease of -365,795 residents due to natural decrease (-31,052) and negative net domestic migration (-389,638).

The West saw a gain in population (35,868) despite losing residents via negative net domestic migration (-144,941). Growth in the West was due to natural increase (143,082) and positive net international migration (38,347).

Between 2020 and 2021, 33 states saw population increases and 17 states and the District of Columbia lost population, 11 of which had losses of over 10,000 people. This is a historically large number of states to lose population in year.

Top 10 Most Populous States: 2021
Rank Geographic Area April 1, 2020
(Estimates Base)
July 1, 2020 July 1, 2021
1 California 39,538,223 39,499,738 39,237,836
2 Texas 29,145,505 29,217,653 29,527,941
3 Florida 21,538,187 21,569,932 21,781,128
4 New York 20,201,249 20,154,933 19,835,913
5 Pennsylvania 13,002,700 12,989,625 12,964,056
6 Illinois 12,812,508 12,785,245 12,671,469
7 Ohio 11,799,448 11,790,587 11,780,017
8 Georgia 10,711,908 10,725,800 10,799,566
9 North Carolina 10,439,388 10,457,177 10,551,162
10 Michigan 10,077,331 10,067,664 10,050,811