“A country grows or shrinks in three ways: immigration, deaths, and births. America’s declining fertility rate often gets the headline treatment. Journalists are obsessed with the question of why Americans aren’t having more babies. And because I’m a journalist, be assured that we’ll do the baby thing in a moment. But it’s the other two factors—death and immigration—that are overwhelmingly responsible for the collapse in U.S. population growth. …
“Excess deaths accounted for 50 percent of the difference in population growth from 2019 to 2021. That’s a clear sign of the devastating effect of the pandemic. But this statistic also tells us that even if we could had brought excess COVID deaths down to zero, U.S. population growth would still have crashed to something near an all-time low. To understand why, we have to talk about the second variable in the population equation: immigration.
“As recently as 2016, net immigration to the United States exceeded 1 million people. But immigration has since collapsed by about 75 percent, falling below 250,000 last year. Immigration fell by more than half in almost all of the hot spots for foreign-born migrants, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.”
From the NYT: “Overall, 2021 will go down as the year with the slowest population growth in U.S. history.
“New census data shows why: Both components of growth — gains from immigration, and the number of births in excess of the number of deaths — have fallen sharply in recent years. In 2021, the rate of population growth fell to an unprecedented 0.1 percent.
“Yet within these sluggish figures a new pattern is emerging. Immigration, even at reduced levels, is for the first time making up a majority of population growth.
In part this is because Americans are dying at higher rates and having fewer babies, trends accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s also because there are signs that immigration is picking up again.”