After posting its slowest population growth since the 1930s during the last 10 years, Kansas started the new decade out on a sluggish note with a population loss.
New census estimates released just before Christmas showed that Kansas lost about 1,300 people from July 1, 2020, through July 1, 2021.
Kansas was one of 17 states that lost population during that time span as the country saw an overall population increase of 0.1% – the slowest growth since its founding.
The Census Bureau said 17 was a historically large number of states to lose population in one year.
States suffering the worst losses numerically were New York (-319,020), California (-261,902), Illinois (-113,776), Massachusetts (-37,497) and Louisiana (-27,156).
States with the biggest gains numerically were Texas (310,288), Florida (211,196), Arizona (98,330), North Carolina (93,985) and Georgia (73,766).
Overall, states in the East and Midwest saw population decline during the time period while states in the West and South saw gains.
The Census Bureau reported that population in the East dropped by 365,795 residents while the Midwest saw a decline of about 93,700.
The South was flourishing with an increase of about 816,000, while the West picked up about 35,900 people, although it lost people through domestic migration.
“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,” Wilder said in a statement.
The new estimates are separate from the new census data compiled every decade.
But in the coming years, the data will start foreshadowing what the state might expect to see as it starts approaching the next census in 2030.
Some experts caution not to read a lot into the latest data from the Census Bureau because data collection during the pandemic may not be as reliable as in the past.
“The population data are less informative than normal because of the pandemic,” said University of Kansas economist Donna Ginther.
“You need to be careful in saying there’s a trend,” Ginther said.
Overall, Kansas ranked 35th out of the 50 states in numerical population growth for 2020-21, the Census Bureau’s estimates show.
Of the 17 states that lost population in the last year, 15 of them lost more population than Kansas, the data shows.
Kansas’ neighbors have been showing better population trends even if the Midwest as a whole has been losing people.
The new numbers out last week showed that Missouri’s population had risen about 13,700, while Iowa’s had increased about 4,400 within the last year.
Nebraska’s population jumped about 2,200, and Oklahoma climbed by about 24,600. Colorado’s population increased by about 27,700.
The population estimates for Kansas reflect a trend that’s been playing out for years in a state with an aging population, a record low birthrate and a lack people moving into the state in robust numbers.
Births exceeded deaths in Kansas in 2020-21 by about 2,200, but people continued to leave the state by the thousands.
For instance, the latest Census Bureau estimates show that Kansas lost nearly 3,900 people who left the state for other places.
The state lost about 5,200 people because of domestic migration, offset partially by the roughly 1,300 coming to the state because of international migration.
Kansas was one of 20 states and the District of Columbia that lost residents because of net domestic migration.
The largest domestic migration losses were in California (-367,299), New York (-352,185) and Illinois (-122,460).
The largest net domestic migration gains were see in Florida (220,890), Texas (170,307) and Arizona (93,026).
The 2020 census showed that Kansas grew by 3% from the 2010, the lowest growth since the 1930s when the state lost 4.3% of its population.
While the decline in growth for Kansas has been steady for years, it has shown a more pronounced drop-off during the last decade, when there was an effort to cut income taxes to spur the economy.
Population growth has been a trickle for most of the 2010s, growing from about 2.85 million in 2010 to about 2.94 million this year.
By comparison, Kansas grew by about 16,000 from 2010 to 2011 compared to the estimated loss of 1,300 from 2020 to 2021.