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Census: Mississippi Among Just Three States With Shrinking Populations

A walkway in Natchez, Mississippi is covered in shadows as the orange sets over the Mississippi River in an orange sky
Tourists and residents use this walkway in Natchez, Miss., to peer out over the Mississippi River. Mississippi's population declined by 6,018 residents between 2010 and 2020, Census data shows. Photo by Ashton Pittman

Mississippi is one of only three states that has fewer residents now compared to a decade ago, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed today as it announced the first results of the 2020 Census. The Magnolia State officially lost 6,018 residents, or 0.2% of its population, over the 10-year period. 

Mississippi’s population was 2,967,297 in the 2010 Census; in 2020, it was 2,961,279. Despite the decline in population, the state will retain all four of its congressional districts. A joint legislative committee will begin redrawing congressional lines next year. The Census Bureau says it will release more information necessary for the reapportionment by Sept. 30, 2021.

“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Census Bureau Acting Director Ron Jarmin said in a press statement today. “Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mississippi recorded 40,150 deaths in 2020—the most in history and far more than the average of 32,526 from 2017-2019. The excess death toll last year of 7,624 was the biggest jump in that metric since 1918—the year of the Great Influenza pandemic. The 2020 excess death toll is greater than the state’s population decline since 2010.

Only West Virginia, a state hit hard by the decline in coal-mining jobs, lost more residents than Mississippi. That state lost a congressional district and 59,278 residents—a decline of 3.2%. Illinois experienced the smallest population decline of the three, dropping by only 0.1%. 

Nationally, the U.S. population grew by 7.1%, from 312.4 million citizens in 2010 to 334.7 million in 2020. That marked the second slowest 10-year-period of growth in history as birth rates and immigration slowed. The slowest period was 1930-1940, the decade of the Great Depression.

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