The official tally of Green Mountain State residents was 643,077, up from 625,741 in the 2010 count, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Vermont's growth lagged behind the 7.4 percent increase in the United States overall. The national growth, the New York Times reported, is the nation's most sluggish recorded population increase since the 1930s.
Aside from Massachusetts, which matched the national growth rate, New England states reported even smaller increases. Maine, with 2.6 percent growth, and Connecticut, with 0.9 percent, lagged behind Vermont. New Hampshire experienced 4.6 percent growth.
Gov. Phil Scott's office released a statement calling the bump a pleasant surprise, noting that 2019 estimates had suggested the state's population may have declined slightly.
"It is too early to see what might have driven that change, and we look forward to understanding why we outperformed the 2019 estimates," the governor's press secretary, Jason Maulucci, said in an emailed statement. "[B]ut one factor could be that Vermont’s leading response to the pandemic attracted people to move to our state."
Seven Days has previously reported that out-of-staters flocked to ski towns such as Stowe during the pandemic, and that Vermont's tight real estate market surged last year. The state's uncrowded rural character proved appealing to homebuyers during the pandemic. The number of residential property sales to out-of-state buyers in 2020 increased by 38 percent, or by about 1,000 units, according to the state's Agency for Digital Services.
The governor's office called the news "encouraging."
"In order to keep more people here and attract more people to our state, the Governor will continue to focus on making Vermont more affordable and building a better atmosphere for employers and job creators to expand or relocate to Vermont," the administration's statement said.
A state's population affects the size of its congressional delegation, its votes in the Electoral College and how much aid it gets from the federal government. In Vermont's case, the state will continue to have just one member in the U.S. House of Representatives, and three Electoral College votes.