Population Losers

California's population dipped below 39 million as of July, according to the Census Bureau, after seeing its net domestic migration loss this year exceed last year's. Only New York has seen a greater loss as a percentage of population.

3 minute read

December 28, 2023, 8:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid


Blurred close-up of movers in blue coveralls unloading cardboard boxes from moving van.

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A recent post noted the five Southern states responsible for 75 percent of the nation's population growth from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023 according to U.S. Census Bureau data released on December 19. What about the population losers?

“California was one of just eight states that lost population between 2022 and 2023, according to the Census Bureau,” reports Christian Leonard for the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec 21. “New York had by far the biggest percentage decline, losing about 102,000 people, or 0.5% of the population.”

In fact, New York's population loss last year was also the nation's highest. More on New York below.

California’s population dipped by about 75,000 from 2022 to 2023, estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau shows, with about 38,965,000 million people in the state this year,” adds Leonard in the source article, “the lowest count since 2015.”

[Related: California Decline: Population Likely Peaked Three Years Ago, July 27, 2023]

Net domestic migration

The net outflow of residents, known as net domestic migration, or more specifically, negative net domestic migration, is staggering from the Golden State which has grown in population continuously since statehood in 1850 until 2020.

About 338,000 more people left California for other states than vice versa from July 2022 to July 2023, the Census Bureau data shows. That’s slightly greater than the 333,000 from 2021 to 2022, and the most of any state. California historically loses more people to the rest of the country than it gains.

Empire State losses

“New York’s population decreased by 101,984 residents—the largest loss of any state—during the 12-month period that ended last July 1, according to just-released Census Bureau estimates,” reported E.J. McMahon for the Empire Center on December 19.

The Empire State’s population as of mid-2023 was pegged at 19,571,216, a cumulative decline of 631,104 from the Census Bureau’s updated April 2020 base count.

The 12-month trend for the period ending last July 1 was driven by a net outflow of 216,778 New Yorkers to the rest of the country — meaning 216,778 more people moved out of the Empire State than moved in from other states during the previous 12 months.

The six other losers

“Eleven states that lost population in 2022 are now seeing gains: New Jersey (30,024), Ohio (26,238), Minnesota (23,615), Massachusetts (18,659), Maryland (16,272), Michigan (3,980), Kansas (3,830), Rhode Island (2,120), New Mexico (895), Mississippi (762), and Alaska (130)," according to the Census Bureau.

The six other states that lost population in the year ending July 1, 2023:

  • Illinois (-32,826)
  • Louisiana (-14,274)
  • Pennsylvania (-10,408) 
  • Oregon (-6,021)
  • Hawaii (-4,261)
  • West Virginia (-3,964)

Additional reading on California's staggering population loss:

Thursday, December 21, 2023 in San Francisco Chronicle

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