Posted on November 10, 2023

New Census Bureau Projections Show Immigration Drives Population Growth

Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, November 9, 2023

A new report from the Census Bureau projects the future size and composition of the U.S.-born population under various assumptions, including different levels of immigration. The projections show that immigration is the main driver of U.S. population growth. However, while immigration will make the U.S. population larger, it does not significantly increase the working-age share of the population (18-64), which is a primary reason many advocate for high levels of immigration.

About the new projections:

  • Under the Bureau’s “low” immigration scenario, which is much lower than the current level, the U.S. population would rise from 333 million today to 343 million in 2060.
  • Under the “high” immigration scenario, the U.S. population will reach 397 million in 2060. The high scenario, which assumes 1.6 million annual net international migration — the difference between the number coming vs. leaving — better reflects the current situation.
  • The Bureau’s “main” or middle immigration scenario assumes migration is roughly half the high level. The main projection, which they emphasize, does not reflect the ongoing border crisis.
  • The primary reason immigration has become the overwhelming driver of population growth is because the Bureau assumes birth rates will remain low and deaths rates will continue to be higher than in their prior projections released in 2017. The Bureau is implicitly assuming that no set of policy interventions will stem the rise in deaths among younger people due to such factors as obesity, suicide, and overdose.
  • Even as immigration grows the population, however, it increases the working-age (18 to 64) share of the population by only a small amount. In the low immigration scenario, 57.6 percent of the population will be working-age in 2060, compared to 58.5 percent in the high immigration scenario.
  • The Bureau’s new projections extend all the way to 2100. This super-long-term forecast generates the somewhat alarmist headline in the press release, “population projected to decline”. This decline is not supposed to happen until 2081. Even then, the decline is just 1 percent by 2100.


Further Discussion


The Bureau Is Not Taking Account of the Border Crisis. The reason immigration is so high is in large part due to the ongoing border crisis, with 2.6 million inadmissible aliens released into the United States since January 2021 and an additional 1.5 million border “got-aways” — those observed entering illegally but not stopped — over this same time period. These figures significantly exceed any prior figures in the last 20 years. Legal immigration has also rebounded dramatically since Covid. All of this has caused NIM to increase significantly.