UTAH (ABC4) – As the landscape of Utah continues changing and growing, locals and newcomers alike have certainly altered the state’s current population.

In a new report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, three Utah cities have now topped the nation in reporting the largest population growth in 2021 — St. George, Provo-Orem and Logan.

St. George topped the list as the city that saw the most growth in the entire country.

Many cities saw a huge shift in migration and population sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. With job losses and an unforgiving economy, folks from larger, more expensive cities left their homes and resettled into more affordable areas.

Over 73% of U.S. counties experienced a natural decrease in 2021 which was up from 45.5% in 2019 and 55.5% in 2020, according to the Census Bureau.

Experts say a few trends are causing the decrease including, “fewer births, an aging population and increased mortality which was intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To determine the cities, counties and metro areas that saw the largest growth or decline, researchers collected census data for 384 metropolitan statistical areas, 543 micropolitan statistical areas and 3,143 counties across the U.S.

The research looked at different types of migration including those who moved to another county, state or even abroad.

Top 10 Metro areas with the largest growth from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021:

RankMetro AreaApril 1, 2020 (Estimates Base)July 1, 2020July 1, 2021Percent Growth
1St. George, UT180,279181,924191,2265.1%
2Coeur d’Alene, ID171,362172,646179,7894.1%
3Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC487,722491,582509,7943.7%
4Punta Gorda, FL186,847187,960194,8433.7%
5The Villages, FL129,752130,897135,6383.6%
6Boise City, ID764,718769,581795,2683.3%
7Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL725,046729,233753,5203.3%
8Provo-Orem, UT671,185674,967697,1413.3%
9Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL760,822764,679787,9763.0%
10Logan, UT-ID147,348147,796152,0832.9%

“In many cases, there was a shift from larger, more populous counties to medium and smaller ones,” census researchers say. “These patterns contributed to population increases in 1,822 counties (58.0%), while 1,313 (41.8%) lost residents, and eight (0.3%) saw no change in population.”

Counties that gained the most residents from other states (or domestic migration) are Arizona’s Maricopa County (46,866 residents), Riverside County, California (31,251) and Collin County, Texas (30,191).

Researchers say Los Angeles County, California, experienced the greatest net domestic migration loss (179,757 residents), followed by New York County, New York (113,642).

“Los Angeles County, California experienced the largest population loss of any county, losing 159,621 residents in 2021,” experts say.

Top 10 Counties with the largest growth from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021:

RankStateCountyApril 1, 2020
 (Estimates Base)
July 1, 2020July 1, 2021Numeric Growth
1ArizonaMaricopa County4,420,5684,438,3424,496,58858,246
2TexasCollin County1,064,4651,073,1491,109,46236,313
3CaliforniaRiverside County2,418,1852,422,7642,458,39535,631
4TexasFort Bend County822,779828,632858,52729,895
5TexasWilliamson County609,017615,266643,02627,760
6TexasDenton County906,422913,900941,64727,747
7FloridaPolk County725,046729,233753,52024,287
8TexasMontgomery County620,443624,938648,88623,948
9FloridaLee County760,822764,679787,97623,297
10UtahUtah County659,399663,143684,98621,843

Counties with the largest international migration loss (more people moving out of the country), were found in California (41.4%), Oregon (27.8%) and Mississippi (23.2%). 

“The patterns we’ve observed in domestic migration shifted in 2021,” said Dr. Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections in the Census Bureau’s Population Division. “Even though over time we’ve seen a higher number of counties with natural decrease and net international migration continuing to decline, in the past year, the contribution of domestic migration counteracted these trends so there were actually more counties growing than losing population.” 

Large metropolitan areas that lost the most residents:

  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (385,455) 
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA (204,776)
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA (128,870)
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (106,897)

Counties that lost the most residents from April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021:

RankStateCountyApril 1, 2020 (Estimates Base)July 1, 2020July 1, 2021Numeric Decline
1CaliforniaLos Angeles County10,014,0099,989,1659,829,544-184,465
2New YorkNew York County1,694,2511,687,8341,576,876-117,375
3IllinoisCook County5,275,5415,262,7415,173,146-102,395
4New YorkKings County2,736,0742,727,3932,641,052-95,022
5New YorkQueens County2,405,4642,395,7912,331,143-74,321
6CaliforniaSan Francisco County873,965870,014815,201-58,764
7CaliforniaSanta Clara County1,936,2591,930,5981,885,508-50,751
8New YorkBronx County1,472,6541,466,4381,424,948-47,706
9CaliforniaAlameda County1,682,3531,679,8441,648,556-33,797
10FloridaMiami-Dade County2,701,7672,692,4592,662,777-38,990

“The Population Estimates Program uses current data on births, deaths and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census and produce a time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change and housing units.,” census researchers say.

To check out the full migration report by the U.S. Census Bureau, click here.