17 States Americans Are Leaving Behind

Most countries throughout the world are continuing to grow in population, and America is no exception. However, this isn’t true for all parts of the nation. We’ve compiled 17 states in a state of decline.

New York

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America’s Big Apple is not quite as big as it used to be. Over 884,000 of its residents have flown the nest for other states since 2020, and the state saw a population decrease of around 0.91% from 2021 to 2022.


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Illinois’s struggles with high housing costs and a lack of suitable job opportunities contributed to a population decline of about 0.82% between 2021 and 2022. Many of the state’s citizens have found new homes in Indiana, Florida, and California.


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Louisiana saw a significant population decrease of 0.8% in just one year, making it another one of our fastest-shrinking states. Many movers cite the state’s declining oil industry and lack of job opportunities as key reasons for the move. Texas, Mississippi, and Florida are some of the most popular destinations for Louisiana leavers.

West Virginia

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You may be surprised to hear that West Virginia’s country roads are actually taking its citizens away from home. The state recently experienced a 0.58% decline in its population, with younger generations being the most likely to fly the nest.


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Hawaii is a beautiful state, so you may be surprised to hear that its population has declined for a staggering seven years in a row. Many residents are choosing to move to California, Texas, and Washington. Hawai’i’s high cost of living and housing prices appear to be two of the biggest factors contributing to the decline.


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Oregon’s population declined for the second year in a row in 2023. This shift is largely due to its recent economic challenges, which have caused many residents to seek job opportunities and other economic benefits elsewhere.


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Mississippi’s lack of job and social opportunities has caused a significant number of its residents to find these prospects in other states. The state recently saw a 0.32% decline in its population as a result, with many people opting to move to Tennessee, Texas, and Georgia.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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Pennsylvania is another state experiencing a slight population shift, with a recent decline of around 0.31%. Job market changes and economic factors are cited as some of the most common reasons for residents deciding to move.

Rhode Island

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Many of this state’s residents are choosing to hit the road amid rising living costs and housing prices. Rhode Island’s small size also comes with a specific set of challenges when it comes to keeping and attracting its residents.


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California is a dream home for many, but the high cost of living and housing prices are increasingly making it a less affordable option. Reflecting these issues, California’s population shrank by 0.2% between 2022 and 2023.


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Despite its close proximity to Washington, D.C., Maryland is another state that has unfortunately been affected by high living costs and high property taxes. Among other factors, this has led to a slight population decrease of 0.16% in recent times.

New Mexico

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New Mexico lost over 3,300 people between July 2021 and July 2022. Between struggles with job creation and economic diversification, more citizens are moving to neighboring states for better opportunities. To retain its residents, New Mexico could focus on improving infrastructure and education.


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Massachusetts saw a small 0.13% population decline from 2022 to 2023, reflecting rising cost of living prices and increased competition within the job market. The state has reacted to these challenges by initiating efforts to create a more diverse and dynamic economy.


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Alaska’s population has remained fairly stable overall. However, the state did see a minor population decrease of 0.08% in recent times. The region’s extreme weather and remoteness can make Alaska a challenging place to live for many.

New Jersey

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New Jersey is another state that has experienced a recent small population decrease of 0.07%. High property taxes and a rising cost of living are among some of the key factors driving locals to more affordable states.


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Like New Jersey, Ohio has seen a minor population decrease of 0.07%. Following the trend of other states, economic changes, a lack of job opportunities, and an aging population are some of the most prominent factors in the decline.


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While Kansas has only seen a very small population decrease of 0.03%, some are arguing that this is evidence of more pressing issues. The state is currently struggling with a lack of diversity in its economy and a limited number of job opportunities. CF

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