The US census bureau says the COVID-19 pandemic caused a natural decrease in 2021 in the population of nearly three-quarters of US counties.
The bureau data showed that more than 73 percent of US counties experienced a natural decrease, or an excess of deaths over births, up from 55.5 percent in 2020 and 45.5 percent in 2019.
“In 2021, fewer births, an aging population and increased mortality – intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic – contributed to a rise in natural decrease,” the U.S. Census Bureau said in a statement.
The biggest loss, of 159,621 residents, was in Los Angeles county in California, according to the data released by the bureau, as part of its Vintage 2021 estimates of population and components of change.
All counties in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island experienced natural decrease in 2021, it added, while migration also led to a decline in population for some.
The fall continues a trend in which more than half of all U.S. counties lost population over the decade from 2010, with almost all growth taking place in metropolitan areas, census officials said last August.
Between 2020 and 2021, population increased in about 65% of metropolitan areas within the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
The U.S. population grew at a slower pace in 2021 than any other year on record as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the more subdued growth of recent years, the bureau has said.