Washington surpasses 7.8 million people in 2022

Washington’s population has increased by 158,100 people since the 2020 Decennial Census on April 1, 2020, largely due to migration. That means Washington has grown to about 7,864,400 people as of April 1, according to annual estimates prepared by the Office of Financial Management.

The state’s total population change was 97,400 since last year, which fell just below the past decade’s average of 98,200 per year. King County is the main contributor to this growth, adding 30,700 people this year, compared to an average of 33,800 people per year between 2010 and 2020.

The unadjusted population growth rate is much faster than last year — 1.3% versus 0.8% the previous year.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact population estimates. We saw a significant rebound in population numbers in 2021, which was driven by fewer people living together in collective dwellings. However, this is not the case in all cities. We found that the prison population continued to decline and people living in university accommodation had not fully recovered.

Migration continues to be the main driver of Washington’s population growth. From 2021 to 2022, net migration (inbound minus outbound) to Washington totaled 83,300. That’s 40,500 more than last year. Net migration accounted for 86% of the state’s population growth, with natural increase (births minus deaths) responsible for the remaining 14%. The state’s natural population increase of 14,100 has reached historic lows, with births declining more slowly than in recent years, but COVID-19 has increased the total number of deaths.

Housing growth has remained a strong indicator of population growth in Washington. Despite strong housing growth, we saw high occupancy rates in most cities and towns. Last year the state added 46,500 homes, 100 more than last year. Of the new units built in the past year, 58% were multi-family. More than 71% of all new housing units in the past two years were built in one of the five largest metropolitan counties in the state. King County leads all counties with 17,100 new homes and recorded 37% of the state’s total housing growth this year.

Consistent with previous years, more than 67% of the state’s population growth occurred in the five largest metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane. The eight counties with populations between 100,000 and 350,000 saw 20% of the state’s growth. And counties with fewer than 100,000 had a 13% share, which was larger than usual due to more people living together in collective dwellings. Whitman, Kittitas and Whatcom are the three fastest growing counties, due to returning students. Otherwise, the fastest growing county between 2021 and 2022 was San Juan, growing 1.7%. Spokane followed at 1.6% then Clark at 1.5%.

The April 1, 2022 population estimate for Washington’s incorporated cities is 5,156,000, an increase of 1.6% from last year. The top 10 cities for digital change, in descending order, are Seattle, Bellingham, Lake Stevens, Lacey, Vancouver, Pullman, Spokane Valley, Tacoma, Ridgefield and Spokane. Seattle’s population grew by 20,100 people to a total of 762,500. For many of these 10 high growth cities, we found that a rebounding quarter population or annexation was a bigger factor in the increase in population than the growth of new housing.

You can find additional information on the latest population estimates for the state, counties, cities and towns, including tables and maps showing population trends and density, on our official population page. population estimates as of April 1.

Components of Washington State’s Demographic Change

Geraldine L. Melton