Census Bureau: International Migration to U.S. Dropped in 2017; Still Accounted for 48% of Population Growth

By Terence P. Jeffrey | January 3, 2018 | 4:54pm EST
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(CNSNews.com) - Net international migration to the United States declined during the year that ended on July 1, 2017, but still accounted for 48 percent of the nation’s population growth for that year, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Net international migration decreased 1.8 percent between 2016 and 2017, making it the first drop since 2012-2013,” the bureau says. “However, net international migration continues to be a significant factor in the population growth of the United States, adding just over 1.1 million people in the last year.”

In the year that ended on July 1, 2016, net international migration into the United States was 1,132,096, according to the Census Bureau. In the year that ended on July 1, 2017, it dropped to 1,111,283.

Back in 2013, the Census Bureau published projections estimating that net international migration would surpass natural increase (the net of births and deaths) as the leading contributor to U.S. population growth sometime between 2027 and 2038.

“This scenario would mark the first time that natural increase was not the leading cause of population increase since at least 1850, when the census began collecting information about residents' country of birth,” the Census Bureau said when it released its 2013 estimates. “The shift in what drives U.S. population growth is projected to occur between 2027 and 2038, depending on the future level of international migration.”

"Our nation has had higher immigration rates in the past, particularly during the great waves of the late 19th and early 20th centuries," Census Bureau Senior Advisor Thomas Mesenbourg said in a May 15, 2013 press release. "This projected milestone reflects the mix of our nation's declining fertility rates, the aging of the baby boomer population and continued immigration."

The Census Bureau each year looks at four factors that yield the net growth of the nation’s total resident population during the 12-month period that begins on July 1 of one year and ends on July 1 of the next. These factors include births and deaths, which yield the net “natural increase” in the population; and migration into and out of the country, which yield the net increase caused by “international migration.”  

The Census Bureau, on December 20, released the data for the latest year, which ended on July 1, 2017.

In that year, the total resident population of the United States increased by 2,313,243, rising from 323,405,935 to 325,719,178.

Natural increase accounted for 1,201,960 (or 51.96 percent) of this growth. (There were 3,946,000 birth during the year and 2,744,040 deaths.)

Net international migration accounted for 1,111,283 (or 48.04 percent) of the growth.

As the Census Bureau noted, that was a drop from the year that ended on July 1, 2016.

In that year, the total resident population increased by 2,366,096, rising from 321,039,839 to 323,405,935.

That 2,366,096 population increase in the year ending on July 2016 consisted of a natural increase of 1,234,000 (or 52.15 percent) and a net international migration of 1,132,096 (or 47.85 percent). The natural increase of 1,234,000 was the net of 3,962,714 births and 2,728,714 deaths.

As the Census Bureau noted in its release on the 2017 data, the population increase due to net international migration declined from 2016 to 2017—dropping 20,813 (or 1.84 percent) from 1,132,096 to 1,111,283.

In the full-year data that the Census Bureau has published for the seven years starting with the year that runs from July 1, 2010 to July 1 2011 and running through the year that runs from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017, the percentage of population growth attributable to net international migration has increased every year.

In the year ending July 1, 2011, it was 36.64%--accounting for 844,816 out of a total population growth of 2,305,859. In the year ending July 1, 2017, the was 48.04 percent—accounting for 1,111,283 out of a total population growth of 2,313,243.

The Census Bureau calculates the effect that net international migration has on the resident population of the United States by estimating not only the number of foreign-born persons moving into and out of the United States, but also by estimating the movement of native-born American into and out of the United States, the number moving in and out of Puerto Rico and the number of U.S. military forces moving in and out of the United States.

“We estimate international migration in several parts: immigration of the foreign born, emigration of the foreign born, net migration between the United States and Puerto Rico, net migration of natives to and from the United States, and net movement of the Armed Forces population to and from the United States,” says the Census Bureau. “For each component, we first estimate the total migration flow for the nation.”


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