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Population change: natural increase and net migration

Washington state population

Year Natural Increase Net Migration
2021 17,809 42,119
2020 26,323 134,314
2019 28,503 90,337
2018 30,974 86,296
2017 33,589 93,011
2016 35,158 87,132
2015 35,631 57,609
2014 36,315 49,455
2013 36,141 28,489
2012 37,903 11,967
2011 37,597 5,763
2010 40,736 11,541
2009 41,722 22,307
2008 41,621 41,492
2007 41,591 63,311
2006 37,888 83,534
2005 36,236 54,029
2004 34,932 46,683
2003 34,338 32,881
2002 34,391 54,855
2001 36,809 39,500


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  • Population change is comprised of two major components -- natural increase and net migration.
  • Natural increase (births minus deaths) is the more stable component of population change. Natural increase hit a nadir in 1973
    when the number of births in the state fell to its lowest level in the post WWII era, a period commonly referred to as the "Baby Bust."
  • Beginning in 2006, the children of the baby boomers started reaching childbearing age and the number of births in Washington began to increase.  This high level of births, referred to by demographers as the "Third Wave" of the baby boom, was expected to hold for some time. Beginning in 2009, women started having fewer children in response to the recession and the slow pace of the economic recovery.
  • In 2021, persons age 65 and over made up approximately 17.3% of the state’s population, up by 5.0% points since 2010. The increase of population aged 65 and older means a smaller share of the population will be women of child bearing age. At the same time, a larger proportion of the state's population will be older and are thus at greater risk of dying.
    At the same time, a larger proportion of the state’s population will be older and are thus at greater risk of dying.
  • Migration into and out of Washington is largely dependent upon the economic conditions within the state relative to the rest of the nation. The Boeing Bust of the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in probably the greatest exodus of population in Washington history.
  • The poor economic climate in California resulted in out-migration of about 400,000 people per year in the early 1990s. Even though Washington's economic growth was slow during that period, it still outpaced California's, thus serving as a magnet to many from the Golden State. More recent economic conditions, though hardly optimal, also favor Washington state relative to California.

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Last updated
Thursday, December 30, 2021
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