US population growth has slowed to levels not seen since the Great Depression, according to data released this week by the US census bureau.
The US population was expected to grow just 0.7% in 2013, to arrive at 317,297,938 people on New Year’s Day 2014. That rate was down from 0.73% in 2010-2011 and much lower than the 1.2% growth rate of the 1990s, a decade of economic expansion.
The United States has not seen such slow growth since the Depression era of 1933-1937, according to William Frey, a demographics expert and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Up until 2008, really we didn’t see those growth rates change much,” Frey said. “This sharp bump that we’ve seen in the last few years does suggest that the economy has a lot to do with it.” But average annual growth, Frey said, is a “fairly crude measure” that can miss the underlying influence of immigration laws and changing cultural and social mores.
“In the Great Depression era, migration laws were stricter in the late teens and early to mid-20s,” he said. “You had lower fertility rates as well, with the very dire circumstances” of many families. From 1932-1933, population growth settled at 0.59%, creeping to 0.60% in 1937, according to census bureau figures. Declining unemployment and other recent signs of economic life have yet to register on the population scales. Real GDP growth picked up in 2011 after declining sharply in the first decade of the new millennium, from nearly 1% a year in 2000 to just more than 0.3% in 2010. Continue reading “US population growth continues to drop”