Remote workers relocating didn’t create a population surge in Colorado during pandemic

Net migration was slowest since mid-2000s, state demographer says

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post
People walk down Main Street on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 21, 2022 in Breckenridge.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

True or false? Colorado attracted a disproportionate number of remote workers leaving behind crowded apartment blocks in San Francisco and New York, resulting in the state’s population surging during the pandemic.

The reality is that Colorado’s population rose by only 30,551 in the 12 months through July 1, 2021, the smallest annual increase in three decades. That gain was about half the 58,001 people the state added in 2019 and less than a third of the nearly 99,000 added in 2015, according to the Colorado State Demography Office.

Aside from the extra deaths tied to the COVID-19 virus, the big reason for the smallish gain was that net migration, the sum of those leaving versus those coming in, fell significantly last year to 15,477. It was the weakest net migration number since about 2005 and a clear indicator that a wave of remote workers didn’t overwhelm the state.

“As we have been saying, growth has been slowing,” said Nancy Gedeon, a demographer who spoke Friday morning at the 40th Colorado Demography Summit. The pandemic just put the brakes on even more.

The other half of the population growth the state did see represented births in excess of deaths or what is known as the natural increase. Colorado had 46,499 deaths and 61.976 births last year. Births have been trending lower since the Great Recession, while deaths have been trending higher due to an aging population, with another big push from COVID-19 and related deaths.


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