Pierce County’s population has seen strong growth throughout the last decade, adding over 118,000 residents, with a forecasted potential to reach over a million before the end of the next decade. However, the pace of change is slowing rapidly, a recent trend driven by several factors.
While the annual count of births is stable, the rate (per 1000 individuals) has declined from a high of 14 in 2012 to 12.4 in 2020, following a national trend in declining fertility rates (Official US Birth Data). The number of deaths, conversely, is increasing with about 1.5 more death per 1000 each year today than in 2011. But it is really the changes in migration that have driven Pierce County’s historic growth, and it is likely migration (both domestic and international) that will determine our regions’ future growth. Net migration in Pierce County is positive, but it’s been declining for years. In 2016, net migration accounted for 14,267 new residents (72% of our growth). As of 2020, migration amounted to just 4,636 additional residents (57% of overall growth).
A low-growth, or even static population is not necessarily a problem. In those scenarios housing supply would be more able to meet demand and infrastructure improvements might more effectively stymie the growth in commuter times. However, a population decline is also a possibility, and a scenario that could herald economic challenges ahead.
The dashboard below presents Pierce County demographic characteristics alongside state and national estimates for comparisons.