Wyoming remains America’s least populated state

Posted 5/4/21

Over the past decade, Wyoming added more than 13,200 new residents — but it still remains the least populated state in the country by a ways.

As of April 1, 2020, there were 576,851 people …

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Wyoming remains America’s least populated state


Over the past decade, Wyoming added more than 13,200 new residents — but it still remains the least populated state in the country by a ways.

As of April 1, 2020, there were 576,851 people living in Wyoming, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday. That represented a 2.3% increase from the same point in 2010, when the bureau counted 563,626 people in the state.

However, Wyoming fell further behind Vermont and its 643,077 residents, which, despite being a tenth of the size of the Cowboy State, now has 11.5% percent more people.

California, meanwhile, remains the most populated state in the union, with more than 39.5 million residents; that means there are roughly 68 Californians for every Wyomingite.

A few states shrank over the past decade, but the country’s population as a whole grew by 7.4% to 331.4 million. That was a bit slower than the growth the U.S. experienced from 2000 to 2010. The change in Wyoming was more dramatic: The state grew 14.1% in the 2000s, which was roughly six times faster than the last decade.

Wyoming may also have been hurt by the fact that the census counted where people were living on April 1, 2020 — before places like Park County saw a pandemic-spurred surge in people moving in from out-of-state.

Wenlin Liu, the chief economist with the State of Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division, attributed the more “moderate” growth to the downturn in the state’s energy industry that started in mid-2014.

“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,” Liu said. At the time that companies were cutting thousands of jobs in the mineral extraction industry in Wyoming, he said the U.S. economy as a whole and particularly in neighboring states — including Colorado, Utah and Idaho — “showed strong expansions.” That, Liu said, “attracted many Wyoming energy workers and residents during the second half of the decade.”

Utah led the nation with a 18.4% growth rate, followed by Idaho, where the population swelled by 17.3% from 2010 to 2020. Meanwhile, West Virginia shrank by 3.2% over the decade.

Numbers from the decennial Census are used heavily by the government, including in distributing federal dollars and determining how the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are split up among the states.

Wyoming will continue to have just one seat in the House, being one of just six states with a single representative (the others are North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Delaware and Vermont).

Montana, meanwhile, is getting a second representative, being one of six states to gain representation. After adding nearly 4 million new residents from 2010 to 2020, Texas will receive two more House seats for a total of 38. California is losing a representative, but with 52 House members, it will still have the largest Congressional delegation in the country. The changes will take effect ahead of the 2022 elections, with the reapportioned Congress taking office in January 2023.

Population counts at the county, city and census block level — which will be used to determine the seating in the Wyoming Legislature — will be released at a later date. The Census Bureau has said it won’t release that redistricting data until the end of September, which is six months later than originally planned due to disruptions from COVID-19.

Now that the so-called “apportionment counts” for the U.S. House have been completed, Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said his agency will begin the work to create and deliver the redistricting data.

In a Monday statement, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo thanked the American public for its “overwhelming response” to the 2020 Census and to the bureau’s workers.

“Despite many challenges, our nation completed a census for the 24th time,” Raimondo said. “This act is fundamental to our democracy and a declaration of our growth and resilience.”