After a rocky three years, it seems King County is once again seeing net positive population growth. This is due in part to easing anxieties about the pandemic, and a thriving immigrant population in the area. In 2022, the county saw a modest .6% increase over the previous year. While promising, this uptick is not yet enough to counter thepopulation decreases seen during the pandemic years.
In 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the King County’s population was around 2,266,789 — down 7,305 compared to July 2020. It was the first time in over six decades that King County’s population had decreased, whereas between 2021 and 2022 the population grew by 13,751.
The most recentincrease was calculated by factoring in natural changes in population, such as births and deaths, along with the total number of people leaving the county compared to those that moved into the area. Last year, King County welcomed 23,346 new residentsinto the area, which is the highest amount since 2000.
Large urban centers have long been popular choices for immigrants to settle, and King County is especially attractive thanks to the area’s strong tech sector and longstanding preexisting immigrant communities. Employers in the county are able to look at international talent pools to fill their needs, and immigrants find the area more welcoming thanks to its many multicultural neighborhoods. In 2021, King County was home to more than 500,000 foreign-born residents.
The other three counties that make up the Puget Sound region — Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish — together have 5,305 more people than they did in 2020. Meanwhile, rural Island County, which saw an influx of residents during the pandemic, was one of three Washington counties to seea decrease in population between 2021 and 2022. This is due to a reversal in the trend of people moving out of cities in favor of more rural areas. While remote work is still a possibility for some, the return of on-site workin some industries may further push residents back into urban centers.
With fluctuations in interest rates and hybrid work models, it remains to be seen if the increase in population will continue into 2024, but it’s clear that for those who can afford it, King County has plenty to offer its residents.