What’s Going On in This Graph? | U.S. Population Dynamics (2022)


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Overall, 2021 will go down as the year with the slowest population growth in U.S. history. What effect will this have on our communities and our economy?

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What’s Going On in This Graph? | U.S. Population Dynamics (1)

By The Learning Network

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How has immigration (in- and out-migration) and the natural change in population (births and deaths) changed the composition of the U.S. population?

This graph was produced by The New York Times using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2021 total U.S. population of 332,915,073 was the result of an annual population growth rate of only 0.58 percent — the slowest rate in U.S. history.

On Wednesday, April 20, we will moderate your responses live online. By Friday morning, April 22, we will provide the “Reveal” — the graph’s free online link, additional questions, shout outs for student headlines and Stat Nuggets.

1. After looking closely at the graph above (or at this full-size image), answer these four questions:

  • What do you notice?

  • What do you wonder?

  • How does this relate to you and your community?

  • What’s going on in this graph? Create a catchy headline that captures the graph’s main idea.

The questions are intended to build on one another, so try to answer them in order.

2. Next, join the conversation online by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box. (Teachers of students younger than 13 are welcome to post their students’ responses.)

3. Below the response box, there is an option to click on “Email me when my comment is published.” This sends the link to your response which you can share with your teacher.

4. After you have posted, read what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting a comment. Use the “Reply” button to address that student directly.

On Wednesday, April 20, teachers from our collaborator, the American Statistical Association, will facilitate this discussion from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time.

5. By Friday morning, April 22, we will reveal more information about the graph, including a free link to the article that includes this graph, at the bottom of this post. We encourage you to post additional comments based on the article, possibly using statistical terms defined in the Stat Nuggets.

(Video) Human Population Dynamics

Updated: April 21, 2022


This graph appeared in the Feb. 5, 2022 New York Times article “Amid Slowdown, Immigration Is Driving U.S. Population Growth.” The year 2021 had the slowest population growth in U.S. history. What were the causes of this slow growth? Population is affected by immigration, births and deaths. Net migration (in-migration minus out-migration from abroad) was 244,000, a substantial decrease from the 1 million or more from the middle of the previous decade. In addition, the net natural increase in population (births minus deaths) was 148,000, resulting from a decline in the fertility rate and an increase in the mortality rate. This is a substantial decrease from the 1.5 million annual gain that was normal a decade ago. In 2021, 14.1 percent of the U.S. population was foreign-born, approaching the record 14.8 percent in 1890.

What are the effects of these demographic changes? The current shortage of labor, both foreign- and U.S.-born, has resulted in wage and price inflation and is impacting economic growth. The Biden administration is focusing on increasing immigration. The U. S. natural increase is being hindered by an older age distribution, the pandemic and other medical issues and personal preferences regarding having children. How will the U. S. population trend in the future?

Here are some of the student headlines that capture the stories of this graph: “A Shocking Turn of Events: Immigration Higher Than Natural Increase” by Luke of Winter Garden, Fla. and “Population Change: The Lowest It’s Ever Been” by Zachary of Pulaski County High School.

You may want to think about these additional questions:

  • For 2011 to 2021, compare the annual change in population by the categories of immigration and natural increase. What is the significance of the 2021 crossover point on the graph? Despite the fact that the lines are downward sloping, explain why there is no time in this graph that the U.S. population is decreasing?


(Video) Population dynamics | Society and Culture | MCAT | Khan Academy

How is it similar and how is it different from The New York Times graph? What do you notice about the solid black line representing Percent Population Change? What do you notice about the three dashed “Annual Components of Change” lines? Do you think it is helpful to see all four of these lines on the same graph?


What do you wonder about the change in the U.S. population in the past decade as it compares to the past 120 years?

  • Regarding changes in population from 2020 to 2021, Texas had the largest increase in population, but Idaho had the largest percentage increase in population. New York had the largest decrease in population, but the District of Columbia had the largest percentage decrease in population. Explain how one state can have the largest change in population but a different state has the largest percentage change in population. Go to the U.S. Census to learn more about the 2021 population statistics.

Keep noticing and wondering. We continue to welcome your online responses.

The next graph on free speech and cancel culture will be released by Friday, April 22 with live-moderation on Wednesday, April 27. You can receive the 2021-2022 “What’s Going On In This Graph?” schedule by subscribing here to the Learning Network Friday newsletter. In the meantime, keep noticing and wondering.


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Stat Nuggets for “Amid Slowdown, Immigration Is Driving U.S. Population Growth

Below, we define mathematical and statistical terms and how they relate to this graph. To see the archives of all Stat Nuggets with links to their graphs, go to this index.


A time series graph shows how a quantitative variable changes over time.

The Population Dynamics graph shows the annual changes in the population from 2011 to 2021 for two sources: immigration (international in-migration minus out-migration) and natural population change (births minus deaths). Because the graph is of the change in the total number of people in the U.S., it is not affected by migration within the United States. Note that the variable is the total number of people and not percentage changes in the number of people. Growth due to immigration did not surpass natural population growth until 2021.


The graph for “What’s Going On in This Graph?” was selected in partnership with Sharon Hessney. Ms. Hessney wrote the “reveal” and Stat Nuggets with Roxy Peck, professor emerita, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, and moderates online with Kristina Barnaby, who teaches math at Fairfield Country Day School in Connecticut.


See all graphs in this series or collections of 60 of our favorite graphs, 28 graphs that teach about inequality and 24 graphs about climate change.

View our archives that link to all past releases, organized by topic, graph type and Stat Nugget.

Learn more about the notice and wonder teaching strategy from this 5-minute video and how and why other teachers are using this strategy from our on-demand webinar.

Sign up for our free weekly Learning Network newsletter so you never miss a graph. Graphs are always released by the Friday before the Wednesday live-moderation to give teachers time to plan ahead.

Go to the American Statistical Association K-12 website, which includes teacher statistics resources, Census in the Schools student-generated data, professional development opportunities, and more.

Students 13 and older in the United States and the Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.


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What will the U.S. population be in 2022? ›

As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau projects the United States population will be 332,403,650 on Jan. 1, 2022. This represents a 0.21% increase in population or an additional 706,899 people since New Year's Day 2021.

What is the world population for 2022? ›

Global population projected to exceed 8 billion in 2022; half live in just seven countries. The world's population will cross 8 billion in November, according to recently released projections from the United Nations. And more than half of all people live in just seven countries.

What percentage of the U.S. population is white 2022? ›

White Population

Together with the 31.1 million people who identified as White in combination with another race group, such as Black or African American or Asian, the White alone or in combination population comprised 235.4 million people and 71% of the total population.

Is the world population increasing or decreasing? ›

The world's population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.

Why is the population decreasing? ›

At the global level, population decline is driven by low and falling fertility levels. In 2019, more than 40 per cent of the world population lived in countries that were at or below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman; in 2021, this share climbed to 60 per cent.


1. Population Dynamics
(Teacher's Pet)
2. Presentación de los Indicadores de Emprendimiento de las Américas
3. Logistic Growth
(Bozeman Science)
4. Population Ecology
(Bozeman Science)
5. Population Ecology: The Texas Mosquito Mystery - Crash Course Ecology #2
6. Population ecology: Theory, methods, lenses
(The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center)

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