TRENTON – New Jersey’s population is shrinking, according to new Census Bureau estimates issued Tuesday, due partly to decreasing immigration and more deaths partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state also continues to experience population losses among residents moving from state to state, though that net loss has actually declined by roughly half from what had been its recent level.

The state population as of July 1, 2021 was estimated at 9,267,130. That’s down 12,613 from mid-2020, the ninth-biggest loss among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., though in percentage terms the loss was bigger in 11 states and D.C.

New Jersey’s estimated population is down 21,864, or 0.24%, from the official 2020 Census count that reflects April 1, 2010.

Twenty states lost residents due to domestic migration, which cost New Jersey an estimated net loss of 39,954 residents in 15 months, including 27,766 in the 12 months ending July 1. That was partially offset by immigration, which has added a net 10,805 people to the population since April 2020.

The net loss from domestic migration in the past year was actually New Jersey’s smallest in a long time, having averaged nearly 53,000 a year over the last decade after peaking over 69,000 in 2015.

Conversely, net gains in New Jersey from international migration used to average more than 35,000 a year but have been declining since mid-2017.

Census Bureau graphic on state population estimates. (Census Bureau)
Census Bureau graphic on state population estimates. (Census Bureau)
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The number of births in New Jersey was down for a third straight year.

Twenty-five states had a natural decrease – meaning deaths exceeding births – but New Jersey wasn’t among them. The Census Bureau says there were 119,434 births and 112,573 deaths in the state from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021, a natural increase of 6,861 in those 15 months.

However, the number of births in New Jersey was down for a third straight year. The number of deaths spiked due to the pandemic. The natural increase of 4,697 over the past year is down from over 27,000 in 2018.

The Census Bureau estimates in advance of the 2020 Census didn't anticipate that New Jersey's population would reach 9,288,994. It had estimated that the state's mid-2020 population was 8,882,371, the biggest gap between the projection and actual count in the country.

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In all, 17 states and Washington, D.C. shrank in the past year, according to the Census Bureau.

Nationally, the population is estimated to have grown by 392,665 in the past year, or 0.1%, the lowest rate in the nation’s history.

Between mid-2020 and mid-2021, the nation added 244,622 residents through net international migration and 148,043 through natural increase, or the number by which births exceeded deaths. It’s the first time that immigration exceeded natural increase.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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