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State Data Center: Wyoming experiences natural decrease in population for the first time in decades

(U.S. Census Bureau)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — While Wyoming had more deaths than births from July 2021 to July 2022, its population still increased, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

As of July 2022, the state’s population was 581,381, up 0.3% or 1,898 persons, from July 2021, a Wyoming State Data Center Economic Analysis Division news release said. This mirrors annual growth from 2020 to 2021.

The government estimated that 2,494 more persons moved into Wyoming than moved out of the State between July 2021 and July 2022. However, Wyoming had 6,189 births less 6,679 deaths for a natural decrease of 490 persons from July 2021 to July 2022. This is the first time in decades that the state’s number of deaths exceeded its number of births, the release said.

“Wyoming’s natural increase in population has slowed down dramatically in the last few years and the new population data further exemplifies that with the number of deaths outnumbering births in the State,”  State of Wyoming Economic Analysis Division Principal Economist Amy Bittner said in the release.

The state’s unemployment rate was 3.0% in July. That’s the lowest it’s been since July 2008. Wyoming’s economy is recovering from the pandemic, particularly in the mining, retail trade and leisure & hospitality services industries.

“Wyoming’s positive net migration could indicate that the experience of COVID-19 may have prompted more people to move to Wyoming than leave the state,” Bittner said.

She said the pandemic’s also changed how people work.

“For some sectors of the economy, telework opportunities are now available to workers,” she said. “This provides workers with more choices on where they live. Some of these permanent teleworkers may be choosing Wyoming as their home.”

She said the trend’s not unique to Wyoming. Twenty-four states experienced negative natural change over the year. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the higher number of deaths during the year. Still, the U.S. population grew 0.4%, or about 1.26 million persons, over the year.

Wyoming’s annual growth ranked 22nd highest in the U.S. Florida had the largest percentage growth during the year, 1.9%. Idaho had the second-largest: 1.8%. Montana’s population grew by 1.5%, and Arizona’s grew by 1.3%. Utah’s population increased by 1.2%.

The South and the West regions of the nation experienced increases in population, while the Northeast and the Midwest had population declines.

Eighteen states lost population. New York experienced the greatest population percentage decrease. Its population decreased by 0.9%.

Texas’ population grew to more than 30 million, with the largest growth in the number of new residents: 470,708. California remains the highest populated state in the country.

The country’s increase in population growth follows the historically low annual growth from July 2020 to July 2021.

Net international migration was the principal reason for the population growth from July 2021 to July. About 1 million more people became residents.

“This increase in population shows that migration patterns may be returning to pre-pandemic levels,” the release said.

More Wyoming population data, including the 2020 Census, are available on the Economic Analysis Division’s website, at eadiv.state.wy.us.

In July, the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division reported that Wyoming’s population continues to get older with young people leaving the state and fertility rates declining as Baby Boomers age. Wyoming’s population of people 65 years of age or older grew by 3.6% and the state’s population overall grew by 0.3% between July 2020 and July 2021. Wyoming’s median age rose 0.3 years, to 38.9 years.