The Census is required by the Constitution and is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, and Congress relies on it when allocating funding to states based on population size. The Census is also used to recalibrate the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, which provide valuable demographic measures of the U.S. population.
The Trump Administration had put forth the suggestion that it would apportion seats based on only legal residents of the United States, but it didn’t follow through with that policy; and it decided not to include the standard citizenship question, even after the Supreme Court ruled the Executive Branch had the authority to do so.
The 2010 Census counted 308.7 million U.S. residents, almost a 10% increase from 2000.
Currently, the U.S. Population Clock is at 330.2 million, with a net gain of one new U.S. resident every 40 seconds, and a gain of one net international migrant every 10.8 minutes.
That 38% figure represents only the percentage net migration contributed to U.S. population growth over that one year. It did not take into account immigrants who came to the United States in prior years, nor did it include children born in the United States to immigrant parents. If we include those numbers, we find that immigration is by far the leading contributor to population increase in the United States, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
In 2019, the Center for Immigration Studies, using Census Bureau data, projected that immigration “will add 75 million to the population, accounting for 95 percent of the increase by 2060.”
When the Census Bureau released its one-year population estimate last year, there were several stories in mainstream press outlets that portrayed the fact that the U.S. population was not growing as fast as it did in the 1990s as a dire problem that needed to be corrected by, of course, increasing immigration.
In The New York Times, correspondent Neil Vigdor wrote that population growth “crept along at its slowest pace in decades,” and he described the Census Bureau’s population increase estimate of 1.6 million people as indicating “stagnancy.” Brookings Institution demographer William Frey was quoted to reinforce this point, claiming that the 2019 to 2020 rate of population growth was lower than during the Great Depression. It takes a creative interpretation of the data to back up Frey’s assertion, but it’s irrelevant, in any case.
What is relevant is that the U.S. population has increased by 208 million since1929, and immigration is four times today than it was then. Those are the realities that should inform decisions about immigration policy going forward. Not an arbitrary standard plucked from history that has no bearing on what's best for Americans today.
The rate of U.S. population growth has slowed over the past decade. This does not mean that U.S. population growth has ended. Or that U.S. population growth is projected to end anytime soon.
Moreover, the idea that the United States should continually grow our population at a rate of 3% -- or whatever -- makes no sense.
Behind the argument that immigration must be increased to “fix” a “stagnant” U.S. population is the inevitable push to use immigration to instead create wage stagnation and to undermine the bargaining power of workers in the United States. This is what writers for The New York Times, and most others who cover of immigration policy in the corporate media, ignore when it comes to the real-world consequences for Americans. To admit that there are quality-of-life issues for the American people related to immigration policy would undermine their narrative that more is always better.
There was no need to bring in large numbers of foreign workers before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. There most certainly is no need to do so now. Yet, even as the surge at the southern border has gone well beyond the crisis point, the Biden Administration is pushing legislation that would add 37 million permanent residents to the United States over just the next ten years.
There may be a million illegal border crossers who gain entry to the Unites States this year alone. The Biden Administration has so far made no serious efforts to secure the border or to enforce immigration law in the interior if the county. Keep that in mind when the Census numbers are released.
When the Census numbers do come out later this month here will be a lot of talk about what they mean for the demographic future of the United States. We will be there to remind you that the U.S. population is not shrinking, and that most population growth now and going forward -- if currents trends continue -- will be due to immigration.
ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Apr 23rd 2021 @ 11:45am EDT