Dec. 31 (UPI) -- New York and Illinois saw sharp population drops during 2019 as "natural" population growth across the country reached its lowest level in decades, new U.S. census data has revealed.
In its 2019 national and state population estimates released Monday, the Census Bureau said New York lost 76,790 residents during 2019 while Illinois lost 51,250 people, representing 0.4 percent of each state's total populations.
They were by far the biggest losers among 10 states dropping population. That list also included West Virginia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Mississippi, Hawaii, New Jersey, Alaska and Vermont.
Some 27 states, notably including California, lost population through "out-migration" to other states during the year. California saw 203,414 residents leave, putting it in danger of losing a U.S. Congressional seat.
Forty states, meanwhile experienced population growth, led by the southern United States, which saw the largest numeric growth at 1 million, as well as in percentage growth (0.8 percent) between 2018 and 2019.
The U.S. population overall, however, grew by only 0.5 percent in 2019, putting its population at 328,239,523. That modest growth rate continues a multiyear slowdown begun in the middle of the decade.
Census researchers pinpointed the decline in "natural" population growth -- the number of naturally occurring births over deaths as opposed to immigration -- as the main reason for the slowdown. Forty-two states had fewer births in 2019 than 2018, contributing to a "graying" effect in the United States.
"While natural increase is the biggest contributor to the U.S. population increase, it has been slowing over the last five years," census demographer Sandra Johnson said. "Natural increase, or when the number of births is greater than the number of deaths, dropped below 1 million in 2019 for the first time in decades."