Ko Im always hoped to live in New York for all her life. Ko Im was familiar with every part of Manhattan and had worked hard for a group of friends. She was living in a tiny apartment and noticed a shift in her attitude during the pandemic. She decided to follow her brother’s lead and move to Seattle when he accepted a job there in the summer 2020.

Im, 36, said that it was okay until it wasn’t. “The pandemic changed my outlook about how I want to live and how I need to live.”

Eighteen of the 10 largest U.S. cities lost their population in the first year after the pandemic. New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were the most affected. New York lost over 305,000 people between July 2020 and July 2021. Chicago and Los Angeles saw their population decline by 45,000 and 40,000, respectively, during the pandemic.

San Francisco is not one of the 10 largest cities. However, nearly 55,000 people left the city in the last year, which is 6.3% of the 2020 population. This is the highest percentage of any U.S. metro.

Only San Antonio and Phoenix were among the 10 largest U.S. towns that gained new residents. However, they only added about 13,000 each or less than 1% respectively, according to the 2021 vintage population estimates.

Justin Jordan moved to Phoenix last year because he was offered a better job than his one in Moundsville West Virginia. He had to adapt to temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) and unwieldy traffic.

Jordan, 33, is a senior operations manager at a business service firm.

Additionally, modest population growth was recorded in Austin, Fort Worth, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio.

The Census Bureau published March estimates for metropolitan areas and counties, showing changes between mid-2020 and mid-2021. The Census Bureau released Thursday’s estimates, which offer a more detailed perspective. The March data revealed that metro Dallas saw the greatest population growth in the U.S. with more than 97,000 new residents. However, Thursday’s estimates showed Dallas losing nearly 15,000 residents. Dallas suburbs such as Frisco, McKinney, and Plano saw the most growth.

The reasons for population growth vary from one city to the next, depending on housing costs, job opportunities, births, and deaths. Living in a crowded area was less appealing after the pandemic of 2020 and the lockdown in spring 2020. Those who were able to leave, such as workers who could work remotely, sometimes did.

William Frey, Brooking Institution’s demographer, said that he believes that the declines in the U.S. population in the major cities between 2020 and 2021 is “short-lived” and “pandemic-related.”

The suburbs of the Sunbelt metro areas were the fastest-growing places with at least 50,000 inhabitants. These included Georgetown and Leander, both outside Austin; Queen Creek, Casa Grande, Maricopa, and Buckeye, all outside Phoenix; New Braunfels outside San Antonio; Fort Myers, Florida. Their growth rates ranged from 6.1% to 10.5%.

According to Keith Hutchinson (communications manager for the city), the metro Austin area has seen rapid growth. Georgetown is located over 25 miles (40 km) north of Austin. 75,000 people live in this city, which saw a 10.5% increase, the highest growth rate in the country last year.

Hutchinson stated, “It’s not surprising.” “People are moving here to find work.”

These estimates also indicated a decline in population of between 3% and 3.5% in New Jersey’s cities other than New York. Similar declines were also observed outside San Francisco, in Redwood City, San Mateo and Daly City as well as Cupertino, Silicon Valley.

Lake Charles, Louisiana was hit by Hurricane Laura in 2020 and lost nearly 5% of its residents. This is the second highest rate of loss in the U.S. after San Francisco.

Although the storm of Category 4 was the driving force, other factors such as the pandemic allowed for people to move. Andrew Mazur (31), had been longing to move to South Florida, where he was born, for some time. In November 2020, he was offered the opportunity to work remotely at a large professional service firm. He was one of nearly 25,000 people who moved out of Philadelphia between 2020-2021.