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Urban Areas Gained Back Population After Pandemic Flight


The movement of people away from urban centers during the height of the pandemic, facilitated by the possibility of full-time remote work, apparently reversed in 2022, according to data published on Thursday by the Census Bureau.

Some of the most populous U.S. counties took a population hit in 2021, but last year, overall patterns of population growth and decline moved back toward pre-pandemic rates.

“The migration and growth patterns for counties edged closer to pre-pandemic levels this year,” Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections in the Census Bureau’s population division, said in a statement.

For example, Dallas County, Texas, lost 22,000 people between 2020 and 2021, but between 2021 and 2022 gained 13,000. That is the fastest gain that Dallas County — the eighth-most-populous county in the country — has seen since 2017.

Eleven of the 15 largest metro areas gained residents or lost fewer people compared with 2021, according to an analysis by Brookings Institution senior demographer William Frey, The Washington Post reports. Besides Dallas, these include metro Washington, D.C., New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

Manhattan's population dropped by 5.9% in 2021, but it grew by 1.1% in 2022. Even San Francisco, poster child for urban exodus recently, where 6.8% of its population skedaddled in 2021, lost only one-third of a percentage point in population last year.

Counties in the South and West mostly have returned to their status as the fastest-growing ones nationwide. Texas and Florida in particular are home to a large share of rapidly expanding counties.