CHEYENNE — Despite losing many people to out-of-state opportunities, Wyoming’s population grew by roughly 2.3 percent from 2010 to 2020, marking the slowest growth rate in the state since the 1980s, according to preliminary data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The initial 2020 Census data shows Wyoming with a residential population of 576,851, meaning the state will remain the least-populated nationwide. In the 2010 Census, the state was reported as having 563,626 residents.
Wyoming’s population has grown in each decennial U.S. Census taken since 1990. However, Wyoming’s growth over the last decade was the seventh-slowest of any U.S. state, according to the state’s Economic Analysis Division, and it was the slowest growth rate in the state since the 1980s, a decade marred by downturns in energy industries in which the state lost about 3.4 percent of its population.
While Wyoming saw an increase in its overall population, it also experienced a net migration. More than 11,700 people left the state than came to it. However, that drop was offset by a “natural increase” of roughly 25,000 people, with the state reporting about 72,000 births and 47,000 deaths.
The net negative migration and slow growth rate was largely due to downturns in the state’s main energy industries since the summer of 2014, especially in 2015 and 2016, when Wyoming lost 9,200, or about a third, of its mineral extraction industry payroll jobs.
“Change in employment always tends to drive and lead the change in migration for Wyoming, and, generally speaking, people tend to move to areas where economies are vibrant,” Wyoming Economic Analysis Division Chief Economist Wenlin Liu said in a statement. "In addition, the economy nationwide, particularly in neighboring states, such as Colorado, Utah and Idaho, showed strong expansions, which attracted many Wyoming energy workers and residents during the second half of the decade.”
The data released Monday was largely to reflect changes in congressional representation across the county, with Wyoming maintaining its single House representative. While a few coastal states, such as New York and California, lost congressional seats, Wyoming’s neighbors to the south and the north, Colorado and Montana, each gained a delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Many details of the U.S. Census data, including numbers on county and city growth, race, age and more, have yet to be released due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. States are expected to receive that data, which is used for their redistricting processes, by Aug. 16, according to a U.S. Census Bureau statement. In Wyoming, lawmakers on the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee are expected to tackle the topic of redistricting sometime later this year.