By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
While Wyoming’s population grew by less than one-half of 1% in the last year, that growth was sufficient to rank the state among the top half of the nation for population increases.
Wyoming placed 22nd for the percentage of its population increase, 0.3%, or 1,536 people, between July 2020 and July 2021, according to U.S. Census figures quoted by the division.
Some of the growth could be attributed to the arrival of new residents leaving larger cities because of the COVID pandemic, according to an official with the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division.
“COVID-19 may have prompted more people to move to Wyoming than leave the state,” said Amy Bittner, principal economist with the division.
Population changes are the result of two things: the number of births compared to deaths (referred to as the natural increase) and people moving into or out of an area.
Wyoming’s births and deaths resulted in a net population increase of 171 over the year, while 1,368 people moved into the state during the same period, the division said.
“Wyoming’s natural population increase has slowed tremendously over the last couple of years,” Bittner said. “Wyoming is experiencing some of the same issues as the U.S. when it comes to natural population growth, declining birth rates and an increased aging population.”
The state’s growth was above the national average of 0.1%, or 392,665 people, marking the first time since 1937 America’s annual population growth fell below 1 million.
In addition to people looking for places to weather the pandemic, the state’s employment growth of 3.1% between July of 2020 and July 2021 may have contributed to its population gain.
“Employment opportunities drive migration into an area, which is typical true for Wyoming,” Bittner said.
The state with the highest percentage increase in population was Idaho at 2.9% or 53,151 people, followed by Utah at 1.7%, 56,291.
Sixteen states and Washington, D.C., saw their populations decline, the Census figures said. The largest decline was seen in Washington, D.C., at 2.9%, followed by New York at 1.6%.