Census Bureau Lowers Forecast and 'Loses' 39 Million Future Americans

Dec 17, 2012

The Census Bureau’s new national population projections released this week forecast markedly lower growth for the nation in the coming decades—especially from immigration—than the last official projection in 2008. In fact, the bureau’s new projected population of 420.3 million in 2060 is below its previous projection of 439 million for a decade earlier, in 2050. The bureau’s new projected population for 2050 is 399.8 million.

The 2060 population figure, which represents a 34% increase from the U.S. 2012 population of 314 million, assumes that annual growth will range from just below 2 million to 2.5 million. That is decidedly less than in 2008, when the bureau assumed the nation would add about 3 million to 3.4 million people each year through 2050, the final year in that set of projections.

Population projections are created from underlying assumptions about the nation’s future net immigration, birth rates and death rates. Formulating new population projections is especially challenging now because the Great Recession that began in 2007 has helped to slow immigration and births. Immigration levels have come down since a peak in 2001, and unauthorized immigration began falling around 2007. Birth rates, already decreasing in recent decades, declined sharply after 2007. But are these recession-related declines a short-term blip or do they represent a long-term swerve?

Read the full article, Census Bureau Lowers Forecast and 'Loses' 39 Million Future Americans, on the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project website.   

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