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Big Cities See Rare Decrease In Population in 2020-21

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In 2020-21, large cities in the United States, those with populations of 250,000 and above, experienced a population loss of 1%, the first year in the 21st century in which large cities saw a decline. A July 2022 report by the Brookings Institution in Washington elaborated on this population shift.

“Big-city growth has shown variations since the turn of the century,” it noted. “In the first part of the 2000-10 decade, big cities took a downturn as easy credit and growth in metro areas with large, sprawling suburbs brought on a suburban boom. This trend was reversed later in the decade due to the 2007-09 Great Recession and near collapse of the housing market, which negatively impacted suburban growth.

“Then as the economy and housing market picked up in the mid-2010s, growth in big cities slowed. The pandemic began to affect city growthin 2019-20, and even more so in 2020- 21 — the first year this century when large cities in aggregate registered a population loss, declining by 1%.”

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