Turns out the pandemic hasn’t permanently deterred people – especially immigrants – to seek fortune among the rocky streets and neon lights of Manhattan.
The county that encompasses Manhattan added more than 17,000 residents in the year ending last July after losing nearly 111,000 people in the previous 12 months, according to population estimates released Thursday by the US Census Bureau. The earlier drop was among the the worst urban population losses due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
New York County was among several large U.S. urban counties that either gained residents or stemmed the rate of decline between July 2021 and July 2022 from the previous year.
The reversal of population losses was particularly notable in King County, Washington, home to Seattle; as well as in large Sunbelt counties such as Dallas County, Texas; and two South Florida counties, Miami-Dade and Broward. The locations all had one thing in common: international immigration led the gains.
“County migration and growth patterns have moved closer to pre-pandemic levels this year,” said Christine Hartley, a Census Bureau official.
Demographic change is driven by migration, both within US borders as people move, and international trends, as people arrive from abroad. It also depends on whether births exceed deaths, or vice versa.
Maricopa County, Arizona, home to Phoenix, saw the biggest gain of any US county, with nearly 57,000 new residents last year. Internal migration was the main culprit. Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, followed with more than 45,000 new residents, with international arrivals and natural increases propelling this growth; 20,000 inhabitants left. Collin County, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas, ranked third in population growth, with more than 44,000 new residents coming mostly from other US counties.
Los Angeles County, the most populous in the United States at 9.7 million, lost the most people last year, more than 90,000, as Angelenos moved elsewhere. On the plus side, the loss due to internal migration was 20% lower than the previous year. The second-largest population loss was in Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago and the nation’s second-most populous county. This change was also motivated by the departure of people.
Several counties in the San Francisco and San Jose area that saw significant population declines from July 2020 to July 2021 — primarily due to remote work by tech workers — saw significantly smaller declines in 2022.
The counties with the largest influx of international immigration last year were Miami-Dade County, Florida; Harris County; and Los Angeles County.
Harris County, Los Angeles County and Dallas County saw the largest natural increases. Three Florida counties — Pinellas, Sarasota and Volusia — led the United States in natural decreases attributed to deaths exceeding births. Florida’s median age of 42.7 is one of the highest in the country.
Growth in Manhattan’s New York County has been propelled by international migration and, to a lesser extent, internal migration and births exceeding deaths.
All population estimates are based on data on births, deaths and migrations.
Despite the most recent gains, New York County still had a population deficit of nearly 98,000 last July compared to April 2020, when COVID-19 spread rapidly across the United States and the region metropolitan has become an epicenter of the virus, stimulating tens of thousands of inhabitants to flee. Surrounding counties continued to lose population last year. The three counties encompassing the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens saw one of the largest population declines in the United States, with losses ranging from 40,000 to 50,000 residents.
Several New Jersey counties near New York also saw releases last year. They included Hudson County, where the omicron variant of COVID-19 closed preschools around Christmas 2021 and prompted David Polonsky and his family to temporarily relocate to South Florida near his parents. The move became permanent in 2022 as the family acclimated to being close to relatives and because Polonsky and his wife could work remotely. They sold their home in Jersey City and bought one in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Polonsky said he misses some things about the New York area, like being able to walk around instead of driving and get a decent slice of pizza instead of mahi mahi, the ubiquitous fish on menus in the city. Florida.
“I love mahi mahi as much as the next person,” he said. “But there’s not a lot of mahi mahi you can eat.”