According to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, Chittenden County saw a 7.5 percent growth in population since 2010, while Essex, Caledonia and Rutland counties saw their populations decline.

The census shows Vermont overall grew 2.8 percent between 2010 and 2020 to just over 643,000 residents. Michael Moser of the Vermont State Data Center at UVM’s Center for Rural Studies said Essex County shrunk the most in terms of population, 6.1 percent.

Moser said the data reflect the national trend: metro areas are growing, while rural areas are shrinking. He said people move for jobs, better opportunities, as well as for a change in culture.

“Vermont has one of the lowest birth rates of states in the country so we are not replacing the population as quickly as other places might be doing that,” he said.

Vermont tied two other states with the 12th lowest growth in population since 2010, according to the figures released Thursday. The data is used to determine how many political representatives each geographic area has at the local, state and national levels, said Tom Little, chair of the Legislative Apportionment Board.  

“Each legislature has members who represent roughly the same number of people so that the voting rights of Vermont residents are potentially equal,” Little said. “So that people know they have equal voting rights when they elect legislators to the Vermont House and Senate, and they have confidence that there is fairness and equality in Vermont.”