by Brett Rowland
The number of people who used to live in Los Angeles County and Cook County in Illinois continues to plummet.
Los Angeles County posted the largest population decline of all counties in the United States in 2022, falling by 90,704 and continuing a downward trend. It lost nearly twice that amount (180,394) in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 estimates released Thursday.
Cook County, home to Chicago, lost 68,314 people from July 2021 to July of last year.
Los Angeles County was still the most populous county in the U.S. That was followed by Cook County in Illinois at 5,109,292, which declined by 68,314 from the prior year. Rounding out the top five were Harris County, Texas (4,780,913); Maricopa County, Arizona (4,551,524); and San Diego County, California (3,276,208).
Eight of the top 10 most populous counties in the U.S. were located in the South and West. The two exceptions were Cook County in Illinois and Kings County in New York.
“Reflecting longstanding regional population shifts, the nation’s most populous counties are increasingly located in the South and West,” the bureau reported. “In 2022, 63 of the country’s 100 most populous counties were located in the South and West, up from 61 in the prior year.”
The 10 counties in the U.S. that gained the most people were located in three states: Texas, Arizona and Florida. Maricopa County in Arizona topped the growth list, adding 56,831 people in 2022. It was followed by Harris County, Texas (added 45,626); Collin County, Texas (44,246); Denton County, Texas (33,424); and Polk County, Florida (32,225).
The biggest losers were Los Angeles County, California (-90,704); Cook County, Illinois (-68,314); Queens County, New York (-50,112); Kings County, New York (-46,970); and Bronx County, New York (-41,143).
“The migration and growth patterns for counties edged closer to pre-pandemic levels this year,” said Christine Hartley, assistant division chief for estimates and projections in the Census Bureau’s population division. “Some urban counties, such as Dallas and San Francisco, saw domestic outmigration at a slower pace between 2021 and 2022, compared to the prior year.”
Deaths outnumbered births in most U.S. counties in 2022. Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. counties had natural decrease in 2022, which means they recorded more deaths than births.
“The incidence of natural decrease remains historically high,” the bureau reported. “Natural decrease counties are found nationwide but are especially prevalent in some states.”
Maine was the only state in the nation where all counties had natural decrease. Deaths outnumbered births in 54 or the 55 counties in West Virginia. And seven of the 10 counties with the highest amount of natural decrease were in Florida. Pinellas County topped the list with -6,468.
Births exceeded deaths in 791 counties (or 25.2 percent of all counties) in 2022. Five of the top 10 counties where births exceeded deaths, called natural increase, were in Texas. Harris County had the highest in the nation with 30,117.
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Brett Rowland is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor and reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He is an investigative reporter for The Center Square.