Story at a glance

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported the U.S. population grew by less than 1 percent in 2021.
  • A closer look at the data shows that Hispanics have been hit hard by a number of factors that have contributed to slower population growth.
  • From 2010 to 2019, 9.3 million Hispanic babies were born in the U.S., but only 3.5 million Hispanic immigrants came to the U.S. between the same time period.

The number of people added to the U.S. population grew by less than one percent in 2021, compared to last year, and a closer look at census data reveals that Hispanic women have been hit the hardest when it comes to helping grow the U.S. population.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that in 2021 the population grew by only 0.1 percent, becoming the slowest rate of growth since the founding of the nation. The Census Bureau cited the COVID-19 pandemic as having “exacerbated” the slow growth that the U.S. has been experiencing in recent years. 

Taking a closer look at the demographics of the country, the Pew Research Center found that in 2020, the Hispanic population reached 62.1 million, a 23 percent faster growth rate than the country overall between 2020 and 2010. Hispanics also accounted for 51 percent of the total U.S. population growth from 2010 to 2020, the greatest share than any other racial or ethnic group.

Pew Research noted that from 2010 to 2019, 9.3 million Hispanic babies were born in the U.S., but only 3.5 million Hispanic immigrants came to the U.S. between the same time period.


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However, just as much as Hispanics have contributed to the U.S. population growth, they are also being hit hard with fertility declines. The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) found that in 2008, Hispanic moms could expect to have 2.8 kids on average, but in 2021 that’s dropped to an average of 2. 

IFS calculates that drop to a loss of 2.7 million Hispanic babies that would have otherwise been born. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also seen a general fertility rate decline in the U.S., with a 4 percent decline in general fertility recorded from 2019 to 2020 across women in all age groups.

For Hispanic women the problem is more acute, with the National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families Research finding that in 2019 fertility rates fell by 31 percent from 2006 to 2017, compared to a 5 percent decrease for white women and 11 percent for Black women.

A decrease in fertility rates coupled with a slowdown of migration from Mexico can also be attributed to 2021’s underwhelming population growth. Rogelio Saenz, a professor of demography at the University of Texas at San Antonio, told NBC News that a slowdown in migration, along with higher education levels, postponing marriage and now the pandemic, are all contributing factors.

The pandemic’s effect on the Hispanic population is significant, with data from the CDC indicating that in every age bracket, Hispanics have recorded more deaths by COVID-19 than their share of the U.S. population within that corresponding age group. 

As for migration, the Census Bureau noted that net outmigration from Puerto Rico also declined during the pandemic, which is the number of people who moved away from Puerto Rico minus the number who moved to its islands. 

Slow population growth can be bad news for the future of U.S. economic growth, with IFS noting that “the consequences of low fertility today will echo through Americans’ increasingly empty homes for decades to come, leaving millions more people isolated and adrift from wider society as they age.”


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Published on Dec 25, 2021