FILE - Lexington Kentucky

The twilight sky is reflected in the skyline of Lexington Kentucky.

(The Center Square) – Data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau shows Kentucky’s population has increased only marginally over the last two years.

The Bluegrass State had a population of 4,512,310 on July 1, according to the federal agency’s estimate. That was a less than 5,000-person increase from the July 2020 estimate.

Kentucky’s .1% gain over that span ranked 31st among all states and the District of Columbia. Nineteen states suffered population losses, according to the Census estimates.

While the state’s population growth has been near zero during the pandemic, most of Kentucky’s neighboring states have experienced more profound gains or losses.

As has been the case for decades, Tennessee continues to outpace Kentucky in terms of population growth. It grew 1.8% over the same timeframe, with a population estimate of 7,051,339 this year. That ranked 12th among the states.

In terms of actual population increase, the more than 125,000 gain ranked seventh nationally. Kentucky’s population gain ranked 29th.

In the 1970 Census, Tennessee had 3.9 million people, roughly 700,000 more than Kentucky had at that time.

Republicans in the Kentucky legislature have held up Tennessee as a state to emulate in terms of a tax policy that would entice more people to move there. The Volunteer State has no income tax.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a tax reform bill that sets financial triggers for lawmakers to reduce the state’s current 5% income tax, with the possibility it will be eliminated completely within several years. When lawmakers convene for the 2023 session starting next week, they’ll have the chance to vote officially to reduce the tax to 4.5%.

Indiana also experienced much faster population growth than Kentucky. The Hoosier State’s estimated population rose from July 2020 to 6,833,037. The nearly .7% increase was 23rd nationally.

Indiana’s numerical increase of more than 44,000 was the 15th highest nationally.

On the other end of the spectrum, Ohio lost more than 40,000 residents over the past two years, and its .4% drop was 43rd nationally.

Illinois, meanwhile, suffered a nearly 1.6% loss in population, a more than 200,000-person decline. Only New York’s 2.1% decline was worse nationally.

The state with the highest rate of population growth was Idaho, which saw a nearly 4.9% jump over the last two years.

The Census Bureau found Texas had the highest net population gain of more than 797,000, while California’s loss of more than 472,000 was the biggest loss of any state.