Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Membership by US State in 2021, Percent Membership Growth by US State for 2020-2021

State-specific membership figures for year-end 2021 are provided below. States and the District of Columbia are ranked in order for largest to smallest in regard to official Church-reported membership. States/Districts in bold do not have a temple announced or dedicated.

  1. Utah - 2,161,526
  2. California - 734,989
  3. Idaho - 471,241
  4. Arizona - 438,249
  5. Texas - 371,007
  6. Washington - 283,609
  7. Nevada - 182,569
  8. Florida - 164,558
  9. Oregon - 151,151
  10. Colorado - 149,007
  11. Virginia - 96,748
  12. North Carolina - 91,521
  13. Georgia - 87,908
  14. New York - 82,866
  15. Missouri - 75,375
  16. Hawaii - 74,858
  17. New Mexico - 69,069
  18. Wyoming - 67,454
  19. Ohio - 63,007
  20. Illinois - 56,535
  21. Tennessee - 55,456
  22. Pennsylvania - 52,149
  23. Montana - 51,289
  24. Oklahoma - 50,800
  25. Indiana - 46,253
  26. Michigan - 45,185
  27. Maryland - 43,309
  28. South Carolina - 42,902
  29. Alabama - 38,845
  30. Kansas - 38,640
  31. Kentucky - 37,077
  32. New Jersey - 34,163
  33. Arkansas - 34,027
  34. Alaska - 33,250
  35. Minnesota - 32,863
  36. Louisiana - 29,550
  37. Iowa - 28,471
  38. Massachusetts - 27,932
  39. Wisconsin - 27,582
  40. Nebraska - 25,055
  41. Mississippi - 21,936
  42. West Virginia - 17,179
  43. Connecticut - 15,625
  44. South Dakota - 11,297
  45. North Dakota - 11,287
  46. Maine - 10,987
  47. New Hampshire - 8,967
  48. Delaware - 5,595
  49. Vermont - 4,655
  50. Rhode Island - 4,283
  51. District of Columbia - 3,136

See below for a list of states and the District of Columbia ranked in order by biennial membership growth rate for the two-year period of 2020 and 2021. The biennial membership growth rate is reported because the Church did not publish state-by-state membership statistics for the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 10 states with the most members in this list are indicated in italics:

  1. South Dakota 6.48%
  2. Arkansas 5.32%
  3. Tennessee 4.79%
  4. Missouri 3.93%
  5. South Carolina 3.73%
  6. Kentucky 3.32%
  7. Oklahoma 3.20%
  8. Alabama 2.86%
  9. North Carolina 2.74% 
  10. Florida 2.68%
  11. Texas 2.48%
  12. Idaho 1.98%
  13. Wisconsin 1.68%
  14. Utah 1.66%
  15. Montana 1.46%
  16. Mississippi 1.33%
  17. New Hampshire 1.07%
  18. Kansas 0.86%
  19. Vermont 0.69%
  20. Indiana 0.66%
  21. Ohio 0.61%
  22. Georgia 0.57%
  23. Rhode Island 0.56%
  24. Arizona 0.40%
  25. Maine 0.26%
  26. Virginia 0.26%
  27. Michigan 0.25%
  28. Iowa 0.24%
  29. West Virginia 0.21%
  30. New Jersey -0.03%
  31. Louisiana -0.13%
  32. Nebraska -0.17%
  33. Hawaii -0.20%
  34. Maryland -0.23%
  35. District of Columbia -0.25%
  36. Pennsylvania -0.27%
  37. Massachusetts -0.39%
  38. Wyoming -0.41%
  39. New York -0.51%
  40. New Mexico -0.56%
  41. Illinois -0.62%
  42. Delaware -0.69%
  43. Alaska -0.73%
  44. Colorado -1.00%
  45. Nevada -1.16%
  46. Minnesota -1.24%
  47. Oregon -1.56%
  48. Connecticut -2.01%
  49. Washington -2.03%
  50. North Dakota -2.28%
  51. California -2.84%

Previous lists of membership growth rates by US state are available for 2017 and 2018.

42 comments:

John Pack Lambert said...

I could see New Jersey getting a temple. However Wisconsin might be the next. New Jersey and Iowa both have 2 temples within 5 miles of the state border.

Ethan said...

It would be interesting to explore the concentration of membership in a place like Arizona. Most of the population here is already concentrated, but then members have been consolidating for the last decade in the Queen Creek/San Tan Valley area. Wards in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and even west Mesa are shrinking and buildings get sold or only used by one unit. With 0.4% growth in two years, after taking out the transplants moving in from CA the state has probably had negative growth.

Eduardo said...

Geographically, New Jersey with a temple does not make sense, especially if the Harrison NY temple ever goes through. Then again, I did not see (anticipate) California getting all the recent temples that they are receiving, but it does help a few hundred thousand Saints be within an hour or better range of a temple in northern California, southern California, and parts of the San Joaquin Valley.

This list is very interesting and informative; some of the negative growth places are surprising to me, but it makes me think that a few of the positive growth states are receiving the transfers from some of them, obviously California with its numbers of move outs and down-sizing. Anecdotally we all know cases of Inter-Mountain states wards and stakes getting the California abandoners.

Iowa and Wisconsin and MS and hopefully greater New England will get them soon. Everything is on the table with President Nelson! Great times!

Noah said...

At the time it makes more sense to build a temple in northern New Jersey than in Harrison/White Plains New York. But considering the Harrison New York Temple is the only temple announced after Joseph Smith's Presidency to remain categorized as "Efforts Suspended" I really hope that President Nelson will "reannounce" it in the next few years.

Christopher Nicholson said...

Whatever the reasons are, 22 states with a negative growth rate isn't normal, is it?

Jim Anderson said...

Arizona: Tucson has had some growth, evidenced by loaded existing buildings with no new ones going up, at least not yet. I know of one ward that may have at least 700 on the rolls, but maybe 100-150 in sacrament meeting and it is on the west and near northwest side.

250k in Metro Phoenix metro as a whole, according to reports associated with President Nelson's stadium broadcast locally as there were so many who would have liked to be there that they filled it up with who was able to (Maryland Ave. exit off the 101).

A brother came up while I was recovering in a care center after abdominal surgery, he got a call from someone back at work, he manages the Broadway Road DI in Mesa. Someone had broken into a donation dropbox in central Mesa looking for valuables, at most they would have gotten maybe a broken TV, but still that is telling.

The area has three operating temples right now to serve that many members, that is nearly 85k members per temple average. Before the pandemic, and with Mesa down at the time, the Gilbert temple was swamped about every night.

A site is rumored for one, near the current east end of the under-construction SR-24 freeway, near the proving grounds. The road has had manor improvements by it that crosses the 24 so things will be in order when it is ounced if that is really going to be the site.

Ethan said...

So you are thinking there will be a Queen Creek area temple? Depending on where that could still technically be in Mesa but I know the area you're talking about. I keep hearing in bishopric meetings how the Gilbert temple is in dire need of temple workers.

Jim Anderson said...

When Orem is finished and Provo is rebuilt, I will be within the triangle that the three make line of sight almost. They will all be within 3 miles or so of me.

The issue with all three is frequent student movement. They get called one semester and for one reason or another move out of one district and into another, so this is a constant matter to try and keep the temples fully staffed here.

Unknown said...

@Christopher Nicholson, comparing to a few years ago, where it looks like it was usually ~10, no, I would say 22 is not normal, but these past few years have been anything but normal. Overall, birthrates within the US (including among church members) are below replacement (though that hasn't changed much the past few years, see https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/birth-rate), while there were about 17% more deaths in the US than normal over the past 2 years (https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/cumulative-excess-mortality-p-scores-projected-baseline?country=PER~MEX~IRN~USA~ISR~BOL~ECU).

Domestic migration is a little trickier to look at -- a lot of news sources only compare within county and between county migration, which doesn't tell us much about changes in between state migration (because for example the headline number for between county migration could remain constant while the composition could shift from mostly between counties in the same state to mostly between counties in different states). Overall, in 2021 25 states had more deaths than births, and 20 states lost residents via net domestic migration (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/2021-population-estimates.html). If you have the time and inclination to see how that compares with the 2010-2019, the data is available at https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-state-total.html. I predict there was less within-state migration and more between-state migration over the past 2 years as compared to earlier in the 2010s. If true, that and the widening gap between births and deaths in many states may account for the abnormally high number of states with negative growth rates.

The other big thing that I predict likely accounts for it is an increase in the past 2 years in the percent of children born to member parents who were not blessed or entered into the rolls of the church -- I suspect there were quite a few of these. Some of them may be blessed this year, as things get back to normal, and some may not ever receive a baby blessing (why don't we call them christenings, I wonder?) but will be placed on the rolls when baptized at age 8, and some probably will never be on the church rolls. The latter are cases where their parents are people who, in some alternate universe with no pandemic, would still be going to church but who stopped going because of the pandemic and haven't returned to activity -- they are still on the rolls, but their children born during that time aren't and may never be, which if widespread enough could be a significant factor. I know in my ward initially attendance was down about 30% during the first year or so we were back to regular attendance (meaning both hours of the block). It has increased noticeably over the past 2 or 3 months, so that now I think about 2/3 the families who attended pre-pandemic and didn't return initially have started coming again.

James said...

@Unknown, I agree that these are confounding factors explaining growth. So can someone explain why we don't just scale by state population estimates?

If California declines in membership are due to outmigration, then real growth or decline could be the nominal change in membership in California scaled by the growth or decline in Californians.

If Alabama had more deaths than births last year, then to properly control for this factor would be to scale membership by overall population to get a more accurate "real" growth rate.

This should be done on a country level, too. It would give a more accurate picture of real growth in the church when scaling by population growth.

James said...

Matt, why was there no post on this for 2019? I see references to 2017 and 2018 only, and then this one for 2020-21.

Pascal Friedmann said...

The loss of population in California is often overstated in the media, more often than not as a political agenda tool. At the macro-level (in which you'd look at data from census to census), California's population is holding steady as we speak and has grown by about six million since 2000 and still more than two million since 2010.

The reasons why members leave California in particular are varied. Many who I've known personally don't actually hate the place or living there as is typically assessed. Cost of living is high(er than elsewhere) but so is purchasing power. In my experience, many people simply want to be close to family or - ironically - want to live in a place that is less populated than CA.

So what I think is actually happening is that Latter-day Saints (unlike the general population) are leaving California. If you want to see what *actual* general loss of population looks like, come to Decatur IL, not to CA.

The only large section of the U.S. where both LDS membership and the general population is decreasing due to emigration is the rural Midwest, and even there it is not that black and white. South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Arkansas (the growth is likely all in NW Arkansas, hence I will categorize it as Midwestern) all seem to have healthy growth rates. Although, for example in the case of SD, LDS growth still lags population growth.

Randolph Finder said...

Really bizarre to me that South Dakota is best and North Dakota is next to worst...

Matt said...

Another reason for slower growth is smaller family size in the church. With over half of the adult membership of the Church being single, and nearly half of YSAs not marrying until after age 30, if at all, that greatly reduces family size inside the Church, closer to the national average.

Much more attention needs to be done to help YSAs (18-30) , Midsingles (30s/40s crowd) and Singles of all ages to get married (and stay married).

Ray said...

Randolph, I don't have an explanation for the high growth in South Dakota in the last 2 years, but a few years ago North Dakota had a big influx of oil-related workers and their families, many of whom were Church members (including one of my sons). Several wards and a stake were created, with stakes growing from 2 to 3. But soon the spigot got turned way down, and many left for other areas that needed their work. Some may have moved to South Dakota? That's possible.

John Pack Lambert said...

2021 was highly disrupted by Covid. Nothing was normal in 2021.

Harvstr said...

Are more just quitting thr church too? CeS letter etc

Randolph Finder said...

Frankly, I'd expect decrease from those who have submitted their names to officially leave is *still* smaller than the decrease from a reduction in the number of children had by couples. My wife's current ward has *one* family with kids still under 18 that had more than 5 kids. And at *least* two counselors in the Bishopric over the last 15 years have had only two kids.

I'd say that quitting the church is on the rise however.

MainTour said...

Did I mention that my little ward was dissolved this Sunday? Yep - California. But we had been expecting it for a few years now. Also all of our remaining numbered wards were renamed based on a local community landmark. My new ward is the Rancho Guajome Ward, and I'm waiting to see if the brethren can pronounce that one. (MainTour)

Christopher Nicholson said...

I think action to increase the birthrate needs to happen in the political more than the religious sphere. My experience is that church talks about how we need to get married and have kids, which we've already heard many times, just annoy people. But in this day and age children are huge economic burdens, especially on couples who will probably be stuck with student debt for the next fifty years. If we want people to have more children then we need to reduce the burdens. Some countries with declining birthrates like Australia, Japan, and Russia pay people to have children.

John Pack Lambert said...

Yet the countries that pay to have children have even lower birth rates than the US.

Ultimately if people understand the underlying doctrines they are more willing to do the right thing.

Of course, there is also good reason Church leaders say decisions like having children are individual decisions. The choices on these matters are driven by very complex individual choices.



Matt said...

Vista?

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

I asked my buddy, who lives in Central Illinois, his take on the possibility of a Champaign temple. Here's his opinion (for the rumor mill). ;)

"Yeah, Champaign is a strong rumored area for a temple. Elder David Bednar's son is our stake President. I got to sit next to Elder Bednar because I was in the Bishopric when they officially made our branch a Ward."

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Unknown

Good info on the stats over the last couple of years.

I would assume we don't call baby blessings "christenings" mainly because that term is so heavily tied to the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox traditions.

I think we call them "blessings" in order to reinforce that they're performed with the power of the restored Priesthood.

Anyone have better information?

Сњешко said...

Занимљиво, питам се зашто Аризона има толико спор раст

Cody Quirk said...

Well we did have a worldwide virus that screwed up everyone's lives, and the US has a total of 50 states.
Too bad you don't know the reasons, obviously.

Johnathan Reese Whiting said...

@Christopher Nicholson

I agree about finding ways to reduce economic burdens for families with children.

It would be nice to see more student debt forgiveness, too.

Bryansb1984 said...

I could see Mesa getting a second temple, probably on the eastern side

Eduardo said...

Zanimyivo, pitam se zashto Arizona ima toliko spore rast

Not sure what that means. I tried.

I did read Anna Karenina last year. Interesting insight into Russian culture, I think.

Or was this Serbian? Hmmmm....

Russians are doing their part in the Second coming of the Messiah.

Hold firm, Saints. Spread the Good News.

Pascal Friedmann said...

As the primary advocate of a temple in Champaign on this blog, I'm excited to hear it! We just took the youth in our ward on a temple trip to Indy yesterday, two and a half hours each way. Turnout was 16/16 active youth. All had their own family names. I think we would definitely contribute to keeping a temple in Champaign busy.

Christopher Duerig said...

Eduardo, using Google Translate online app, this is what Сњешко said in Serbian. I believe he is from Serbia, from previous comments here about the growth of the church in the Balkans area.

"Занимљиво, питам се зашто Аризона има толико спор раст"

"Interestingly, I wonder why Arizona has such slow growth"

John Pack Lambert said...

I am really hopeful for a Champaign Temple. I am not sure if it will make my October 2022 list. I am thinking some location in Wisconsin will come sooner. I am waiting to see what Church growth developments happen by early September to make any definitive predictions.

Bryansb1984 said...

I also live in the Utah Valley area and I think once the Lindon Temple gets done it will be more a square or circle, with 4 temples in somewhat each direction. Lindon-North, Provo City Center -South, Orem West and Provo-East. Give or take a few degrees. I would add Payson but not sure if its in Utah Valley plus I'm doing ones closest in the vicinity. So I don't think Mount Timpanogos and Saratoga Springs would count in the area. Since they're probably in their own area.

Unknown said...

What is the source for these numbers?

Shelama said...

Low and falling and even negative growth in about 60% of the states in the U.S.

Even as the Internet will rapidly catch up in places where it may still lag, like in sub-Saharan Black Africa — which remains the very future of the Mormon church.

But eventually and ultimately it’s a losing battle. It’s just too easy any more for Mormons and investigators to see that the Mormon church is manifestly false and not what it claims to be. It’s just too easy anymore to very reasonably and sensibly conclude against virtually every Mormon truth claim — with complete justification — and as a wholly valid solution to the problem and the evidence.

The good news is that Mormon, Inc is now self-sustaining even without any tithing revenues, and on interest and investment income, alone. Wth enough left over every year to grow the already-bulging treasury and investment portfolio even more.

Ray said...

Shelama, you are wrong on several fronts. Of course, there will always be people of little faith who leave the Church, but you can't see the forest for the trees.

The principal reason for negative and low growth in many states is the return to Utah (and to a lesser extent Idaho), where the roots exist for many of the members in other states.

And in states like California, the prevailing political climate makes many members uncomfortable. They go to a safe place to escape the social and economical problems of the areas they have moved to.

Add to this the burgeoning economy of Utah and Idaho, the availability of good jobs, and the advantage of family in these areas (often multi-generational), and it's a compelling choice to move away from those states.

Then there's the higher death rate from Covid and other factors, and the decreased birth rate resulting from a variety of causes. Last, although growth in the Church has been slow, it is the same in similar misionary-oriented faiths in the US, and much higher that the rapidly declining membership of almost all main-line US religions.

I for one am very glad that the Church has a strong financial footing, with the sad memory of the financial struggles of the early Church showing how important this is. Consider the parable of the talents to help you see the wisdom of our Church leaders in today's difficult times.

Shelama said...

Ray — first, in passing — the parable of the talents is a *PARABLE* and has absolutely nothing to do with money or investments or investment or interest income. It’s amazing that so many Mormons don’t even know what a parable is. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with the business model of the Mormon church, and their excellent investment department. Even as the Mormon church and its extravagant wealth compares unfavorably with the widow’s mite. And — along with all those opulent gilded Mormon temples fit for Herod — don’t connect very well to either the Biblical or historical Jesus. Quite the contrary, actually.

That said, here’s the real problem that you glossed and skirted…

It is easier all the time for a not lazy and not lax Mormon or investigator using almost nothing but the “Essays” and FAIR and the Joseph Smith Papers, themselves, to study the common evidence we all share and very reasonably and sensibly conclude in the negative against Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and Mormonism. And against the burning bosom as a holy ghost manifesting truth and knowledge. And all as completely honest and perfectly valid solutions to the problems and the evidence.

And that’s increasingly true even for life-long devout and RM, temple-married Mormon spouses and children and parents.

— And given that the evidence is what is, and that it’s common evidence that we all share, there’s nothing the Mormon church can do about that.

You also have a basic fundamental here precisely backwards — there will always be TBM’s with a burning bosom who believe, regardless. Nobody disputes that. But that doesn’t even touch let alone invalidate all those perfectly honest & valid and completely informed & justified negative conclusions.

— Even as those “Essays” and FAIR-type apologetic arguments require a burning bosom to be persuasive—which means they are weak for the claims being made.

And sooner rather than later, the Mormon church will even be forced to use those “Essays” as their missionary curriculum — something they were never intended and will be terrible for the purpose.

Even as other proselytizing Christian churches are doing better in sub-Saharan Africa than the Mormon church is, and even as they don’t have the Book of Mormon to lug around. Nor a famous “first vision” that very clearly never happened, nor ancient golden plates that never existed. Nor a magic-rock-in-a-hat. Nor Fanny Alger. Nor an angel with a flaming sword or Helen Mar Kimball, Sarah Ann Whitney, or the Lawrence or Partridge sisters. Nor any mother-daughter pair combos. Nor the Book of Abraham.

Nor baker’s hats, little green aprons, or underwear. Nor that “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger — where there’s no good evidence nor reason to believe they were ever married let alone “sealed.”

Nor that godawful ugly and grotesque D&C132.

Even as plenty of non-Mormons are moving to Utah from other states, even as the Mormon birth-rate in Utah is on the decline. And even as Martinich & Stewart have estimated that activity in the Mormon church—worldwide and church wide—is only about 30% or so.

Plus, eventually, the Mormons just like Christians will ultimately admit that Jesus is dead, anyway, and that he’s not coming back and never was. Even as that desperate but false and doomed hope & rising expectation will take a huge hit by the end of this century…again.

Still, the Mormon church easily has decades left, even centuries. But the evidence is what it is and the handwriting is on the wall.

Daniel Moretti said...

If you only believe what you can see, you are a very bitter person! You could join your friends on anti-Mormon forums, but you prefer to argue here, which is a sad thing. I believe moderation should do something about this.

Jon said...

I found a few rankings from the USPS (change of address requests), and from two moving companies (United Van Lines and North American Van Lines), that showed the top/bottom states where people moved out of/into in 2021.

I lined them up in a spreadsheet with some color coding, and most of the greens were at the top of the list, and most of the reds were at the bottom. Take a look:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1WfimVK1pF70p9RWL_ooF8VtZGEISSi3qDGEuM-ZJ1Kk/edit?usp=sharing

So at first glance, it might seem alarming that so many states had declining church membership in 2021, but there is some correlation with the general US population moving out of those states. And there is some correlation with the general US population moving into the same states where the church is seeing stronger growth.

It only makes sense that church growth statistics would follow those same patterns. This doesn't account for everything of course, but it appears to account for at least some of it.

James said...

Daniel, I agree. Sent an email to Matt on this days ago and haven't heard back yet. Anti-Church rhetoric doesn't belong on blog trying to highlight positive growth developments and should be removed from here ASAP.

In the meantime, there will always be Anti-Christs trying to spew their poisonous vitriol wherever that is permitted, and I find it better not to acknowledge or engage in exchanges with such vituperative people. At some point, they will find out just how wrong they are, and will be left without excuse.

In the meantime, best not to give them the time of day. It only emboldens such people.

James said...

Getting back to the actual data, do the data actually support this claim:

"The principal reason for negative and low growth in many states is the return to Utah (and to a lesser extent Idaho), where the roots exist for many of the members in other states.

And in states like California, the prevailing political climate makes many members uncomfortable. They go to a safe place to escape the social and economical problems of the areas they have moved to."

Just a few posts ago, Matt listed Utah and Idaho as 14th and 12th in membership growth among US states, and Utah grew in membership just 1.66% over two years (roughly 35,000 more members in the state). That includes growth within the state from births and conversions AND members moving from places like California to Utah. Do those numbers really add up? Can the residual left over of 1.66% after accounting for in-state membership really encompass, for example, nearly 21,000 fewer members accounted for in California? No. Mathematically, it can't.

Putting aside the vitriol from Shelema, I think the data support the idea that church growth rate is in severe decline and not just an exchange of members across borders, especially when you consider that these membership numbers don't fully incorporate inactivity (i.e., only incorporates people officially removing names and the children of those who leave and don't get their children blessed or baptized).

Am I wrong on this front?

SteveW said...

France has been helping with care of children, including birth for the longest time (over 2 decades). Sweden was the next country to pay for births with tax credits and outright payments for the last 14 years. Both of these countries have higher birthrates than the United States. Most of the reason that we have as high a birthrate as we have is because of the high percentage of immigrants. We need to base our statements on facts when there are facts.
As a country we need to look at how much we are helping families. We cannot say as a country that we are that have family support as a high priority. When you look at what EU countries, Australia, NZ, Japan, ROK, Saudi Arabia, UAE and some other countries we need to look at ourselves and say we can do better. We need to humble ourselves collectively and say we can learn from other and do better.
Yes, it is ultimately an individual decision to have a family. One that can be made with the Lord's help and succor.
Another part of this issue is people not marrying.
Reducing student debt would help. We should hear some good news along these lines soon.