DC’s population reached 705,749 in 2019, almost 25% more than in 2005 when it started to grow

Increase slowed last year, however, with net in-migration averaging only about one person per day

The US Bureau of the Census estimates DC’s population on July 1, 2019 was 705,749, an increase of 4,202 (0.6%) from the revised estimate for 2018. 2019 was the 14th straight year of population growth. From 2005 to 2019 the city grew by 138,613, a remarkable gain of 24.4%. Also notable is that growth slowed in 2019, primarily due to decreases in net migration.

  • In the 14 years since 2015 the average annual gain in DC’s population was 11,241. The 4,202 gain in 2019 was 37.4 % of that average. 2019 was the slowest growth in 12 years and the smallest percentage gain in all the years since 2005.

graph 1

  • Natural increase accounted for 90.8% of the increase in population from 2018 to 2019, a percentage much higher than the annual average from 2010 to 2019, which was 40.2%. (Natural increase is births minus deaths.)

Net migration accounted for under 10% of last year’s increase as only 401 more persons moved to DC than moved away. Negative domestic migration (-2,203) was just slightly offset by positive international migration (2,604). The 401 net gain is an average of just over 1 person per day throughout 2019. By contrast, from 2010 through 2019 the daily average increase was 18 per day.

Revisions to prior year estimates. In preparing the July 1, 2019 population estimate, the Census Bureau also revised prior year estimates back to 2010. The most significant revisions were cuts to amounts in 2016, 2017, and 2018. For example, the new estimate for 2018 is 701,547, a reduction of 908 from the earlier estimate of 702,455.

Components of population change last year compared to the 9 1/4 years since the April 1, 2010 Census

The 4,202 increase in DC’s population from 2018 to 2019 was just 37.4% of the average annual increase since the April 2010 decennial census count. As already mentioned, the biggest change was in net migration, but other points are worthy of note as well.

  • In 2019 the number of births, 9,433, was 31 more than the annual average since 2010. Deaths, however, exceeded the decade average by 734, which explains why the natural increase in 2019 was below the average annual change since the last Census.
  • The fall in net domestic migration is quite striking. The average annual gain in the years since the Census is almost 3,000 per year. In 2019 there was a decline of 2,203.
  • Net international migration continues to contribute positively to DC population growth, but this has slowed as well. The amount in 2019 was just 71.2% of the annual average since the 2010 Census.

It should be noted that these Census estimates are summary statistics and leave out many important details, such as the number of households, the total number of people moving in and moving out, and the different characteristics of these persons. (how many are children, income, etc.).

DC and the US. For most of the years in which DC population has been growing, that growth has been at a rate faster than the nation-as-a-whole. In 2019 as its growth has slowed, DC’s 0.6% rate of increase got close to the US one (0.5%).

The share of the nation’s population in DC has been growing since 2007 when it was 0.191%. By 2019 it had climbed to 0.215%.

Comparison with the 50 states. In 2019 DC’s population was greater than that of Wyoming and Vermont. (The next closest states to DC are Alaska (731,545) and North Dakota (762,062).) Also from 2018 to 2019:

  • DC’s population increase exceeded that in 16 states (10 of which lost population). In percentage terms, DC’s 0.6% growth was faster than in 33 states.
  • DC’s natural increase was greater than in 11 states (4 of which were negative). DC had more births than 2 states (Vermont and Wyoming) and fewer deaths than two (Alaska and Wyoming). The natural increase in DC, however, was greater than in 11 states because in most states the number of births and deaths are closer in number than in DC.
  • DC’s net domestic migration, although negative, was less negative than in 20 states.
  • DC’s net international migration was greater than in 16 states.

About the data: The information reported here is from the tables released in December 2019 by the US Bureau of the Census in connection with population estimates for the 50 states and the District of Columbia as of July 1, 2019. The tables include (1) total population; (2) population as of April 1, 2010 in the decennial census and as of July 1 of each year from 2010 through 2019; (3) components of population change from July 1, 2018 to July 1,2019, and (4) components of population change from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2019. The components of change are natural increase (with births and deaths shown separately) and net migration (with international and domestic migration shown separately. The data include revisions to the years 2010 through 2018.

An earlier version appeared in the December 2019 District of Columbia Economic and Revenue Trends report issued by the DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

Appendix table

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