to the National Atlas Home page
About | Fact Sheets | Contact Us | Partners | Products | Site Map | FAQ | Help | Follow us on Twitter 
Part of Project LogoAgricultureBiologyBoundariesClimateEnvironmentGeologyGovernmentHistoryMappingPeopleTransportationWater
to the Interactive Map MakerMap LayersPrintable MapsWall MapsDynamic MapsArticlesMapping Professionals





 
People
Map Maker
Population - Density 2000
Population - Hispanic Population 2000
Map Layers
Census, 2000

 

 

Article

  Population Change and Distribution: 1990 to 2000

down1990 to 2000 Population Increase Was Largest in American History
downWest Grew Fastest in the 1990s; South Reached 100 Million
downEvery State Grew; Nevada's Rate was Fastest
downThe Majority of Americans Lived in the Ten Most Populous States
downMost Counties Grew, While Some Lost Population
downInteresting Questions

 
  Census 2000 counted 281.4 million people in the United States, a 13.2 percent increase from the 1990 Census population of 248.7 million. Population growth from 1990 to 2000 varied geographically, with large population increases in some areas and little growth or decline in others. This report, part of a series that analyzes population and housing data collected from Census 2000, highlights population size and distribution changes between 1990 and 2000 in regions, States, counties, and large cities.1
  back to top
  1990 to 2000 Population Increase Was Largest in American History
 
AREA Population Change, 1990 - 2000
April 1, 1990 April 1, 2000 Number %
United States 248,709,873 281,421,906 32,712,033 13.2
Region        
Northeast 50,809,229 53,594,378 2,785,149 5.5
Midwest 59,668,632 64,392,776 4,724,144 7.9
South 85,445,930 100,236,820 14,790,890 17.3
West 52,786,082 63,197,932 10,411,850 19.7
State        
Alabama 4,040,587 4,447,100 406,513 10.1
Alaska 550,043 626,932 76,889 14
Arizona 3,665,228 5,130,632 1,465,404 40
Arkansas 2,350,725 2,673,400 322,675 13.7
California 29,760,021 33,871,648 4,111,627 13.8
Colorado 3,294,394 4,301,261 1,006,867 30.6
Connecticut 3,287,116 3,405,565 118,449 3.6
Delaware 666,168 783,600 117,432 17.6
District of Columbia 606,900 572,059 -34,841 -5.7
Florida 12,937,926 15,982,378 3,044,452 23.5
Georgia 6,478,216 8,186,453 1,708,237 26.4
Hawaii 1,108,229 1,211,537 103,308 9.3
Idaho 1,006,749 1,293,953 287,204 28.5
Illinois 11,430,602 12,419,293 988,691 8.6
Indiana 5,544,159 6,080,485 536,326 9.7
Iowa 2,776,755 2,926,324 149,569 5.4
Kansas 2,477,574 2,688,418 210,844 8.5
Kentucky 3,685,296 4,041,769 356,473 9.7
Louisiana 4,219,973 4,468,976 249,003 5.9
Maine 1,227,928 1,274,923 46,995 3.8
Maryland 4,781,468 5,296,486 515,018 10.8
Massachusetts 6,016,425 6,349,097 332,672 5.5
Michigan 9,295,297 9,938,444 643,147 6.9
Minnesota 4,375,099 4,919,479 544,380 12.4
Mississippi 2,573,216 2,844,658 271,442 10.5
Missouri 5,117,073 5,595,211 478,138 9.3
Montana 799,065 902,195 103,130 12.9
Nebraska 1,578,385 1,711,263 132,878 8.4
Nevada 1,201,833 1,998,257 796,424 66.3
New Hampshire 1,109,252 1,235,786 126,534 11.4
New Jersey 7,730,188 8,414,350 684,162 8.9
New Mexico 1,515,069 1,819,046 303,977 20.1
New York 17,990,455 18,976,457 986,002 5.5
North Carolina 6,628,637 8,049,313 1,420,676 21.4
North Dakota 638,800 642,200 3,400 0.5
Ohio 10,847,115 11,353,140 506,025 4.7
Oklahoma 3,145,585 3,450,654 305,069 9.7
Oregon 2,842,321 3,421,399 579,078 20.4
Pennsylvania 11,881,643 12,281,054 399,411 3.4
Rhode Island 1,003,464 1,048,319 44,855 4.5
South Carolina 3,486,703 4,012,012 525,309 15.1
South Dakota 696,004 754,844 58,840 8.5
Tennessee 4,877,185 5,689,283 812,098 16.7
Texas 16,986,510 20,851,820 3,865,310 22.8
Utah 1,722,850 2,233,169 510,319 29.6
Vermont 562,758 608,827 46,069 8.2
Virginia. 6,187,358 7,078,515 891,157 14.4
Washington 4,866,692 5,894,121 1,027,429 21.1
West Virginia 1,793,477 1,808,344 14,867 0.8
Wisconsin 4,891,769 5,363,675 471,906 9.6
Wyoming 453,588 493,782 40,194 8.9
Puerto Rico 3,522,037 3,808,610 286,573 8.1
Table 1. U.S. Population for Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: 1990 and 2000
Sources: Census 2000, 1990 census, Population and Housing Unit Counts, United States, (1990 CPH-2-1)

Chart showing the population growth and per cent change between the years of 1950 and 2000
Sources: Census 2000, 1990 census, Population and Housing Unit Counts, United States, (1990 CPH-2-1)
The population growth of 32.7 million people between 1990 and 2000 represents the largest census-to-census increase in American history.2 The previous record increase was 28.0 million people between 1950 and 1960, a gain fueled primarily by the post-World War II baby boom (1946 to 1964). Total decennial population growth declined steadily in the three decades following the 1950s peak before rising again in the 1990s.

In percentage terms, the population increase of 13.2 percent for the 1990s was higher than the growth rates of 9.8 percent for the 1980s and 11.4 percent for the 1970s. The 1990s growth rate was similar to the 13.4 percent growth in the 1960s and was well below the 18.4 percent growth for the 1950s.

  back to top
  West Grew Fastest in the 1990s; South Reached 100 Million
 

Population growth varied significantly by region in the 1990s, with higher rates in the West (19.7 percent) and South (17.3 percent) and much lower rates in the Midwest (7.9 percent) and Northeast (5.5 percent).3 The West increased by 10.4 million to reach 63.2 million people, while the South grew by 14.8 million to a population of 100.2 million people. The Midwest gained 4.7 million to reach 64.4 million people, and the Northeast's increase of 2.8 million brought it to 53.6 million people.

Because of differences in growth rates, the regional shares of the total population have shifted considerably in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2000, the South's share of the population increased from 31.2 to 35.6 percent and the West increased from 13.3 to 22.5 percent. Meanwhile, despite overall population growth in each of the past five decades, the Midwest's share of total population fell from 29.4 to 22.9 percent and the Northeast's proportion declined from 26.1 to 19.0 percent.

  back to top
  Every State Grew; Nevada's Rate was Fastest
  State population growth for the 1990s ranged from a high of 66 percent in Nevada to a low of 0.5 percent in North Dakota (see Table 1). This decade was the only one in the 20th Century in which all States gained population. Following Nevada, the fastest-growing States were Arizona (40 percent), Colorado (31 percent), Utah (30 percent), and Idaho (29 percent). Following North Dakota, the slowest-growing States were West Virginia (0.8 percent), Pennsylvania (3.4 percent), Connecticut (3.6 percent), and Maine (3.8 percent). Puerto Rico's population grew by 8.1 percent to reach 3.8 million, while the District of Columbia declined by 5.7 percent.

California had the largest population increase during the 1990s, adding 4.1 million people to its population. Texas (up 3.9 million), Florida (3.0 million), Georgia (1.7 million), and Arizona (1.5 million) rounded out the top five largest-gaining States.

Within the Northeast, New Hampshire grew fastest for the fourth straight decade--up 11 percent since 1990. New York and New Jersey gained the most population, increasing by 986,000 and 684,000 respectively. In the Midwest, Minnesota was the fastest-growing State for the third straight decade, growing by 12 percent since 1990. Illinois (up 989,000) and Michigan (up 643,000) had the largest numerical increases.

While no State in the Midwest grew faster than the U.S. rate of 13.2 percent, several States in the region had their fastest growth rates in many decades. Nebraska's 8 percent increase and Iowa's 5 percent increase were the highest growth rates for those States since their 1910 to 1920 increases of 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Missouri's 9 percent increase was its highest since a 16 percent increase from 1890 to 1900.

In the South, Georgia was the fastest-growing State, up by 26 percent since 1990. This was Georgia's most rapid census-to-census population growth rate in the 20th Century, and the 1990s were the only decade in that century when Florida was not the South's fastest-growing State.4 Texas (up 3.9 million) and Florida (up 3.0 million) had the largest numerical increases.

Growth in the West was led by Nevada, now the country's fastest-growing State for each of the past four decades. Of the 13 States in the region, only Wyoming (8.9 percent), Hawaii (9.3 percent), and Montana (12.9 percent) grew slower than the U.S. rate of 13.2 percent.

  back to top
  The Majority of Americans Lived in the Ten Most Populous States
  The 10 most populous States contained 54 percent of the population in 2000. California, with 33.9 million people, was the most populous one, accounting for 12 percent of the nation's population. The second and third most populous States -- Texas, at 20.9 million people, and New York, at 19.0 million-- together accounted for 14 percent of the U.S. population. The next seven most populous States -- Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, and Georgia --contained an additional 28 percent of the population. The 10 most populous States are distributed among all four regions: three each in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the South, with one in the West.

The 10 least populous States accounted for only 3 percent of the total population. Of the 10, three are in the Northeast (New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), two in the Midwest (North Dakota and South Dakota), one in the South (Delaware) and four in the West (Hawaii, Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming).

  back to top
  Most Counties Grew, While Some Lost Population
  Map showing the percent population change between 1990 and 2000
Percent Population Change: 1990 to 2000
  This map shows population growth between 1990 and 2000 for the country's 3,141 counties and equivalent areas. Some broad patterns are immediately evident. A band of counties that lost population—in some cases declining more than 10 percent—stretches across the Great Plains States from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. A second band of slow growth includes much of the interior Northeast and Appalachia, extending from Maine through western Pennsylvania and West Virginia to eastern Kentucky. Rapid population growth occurred in the interior West and much of the South—particularly in counties in Florida, northern Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, southwestern Missouri, and eastern Texas.

Figure 2 underscores the continued concentration of population growth both within and adjacent to metropolitan areas.5 In Texas, for instance, the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio metropolitan areas show up as pockets of fast population growth, while most of the nonmetropolitan counties in the State recorded either slow growth or population decline.

In the slow-growing upper Midwest, the rapid growth of counties in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota metropolitan areas stands in sharp contrast to the population declines that occurred in most of the region's other counties. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area has a common growth pattern: slow expansion in the central county or counties and faster growth in outlying counties. In the South, the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area also shows this pattern, with a large group of fast-growing, primarily outlying, counties surrounding two slower-growing central counties.

Population growth also differed between counties bordering Canada and those counties bordering Mexico.6 Between 1990 and 2000, the counties on the Mexican border grew rapidly, up 21 percent. In contrast, the population on the Canadian border remained stable over the period, increasing just 1 percent, with many counties experiencing population decline. In 2000, 6.3 million Americans lived in counties that bordered Mexico, while 5.0 million resided in counties bordering Canada.

Growth differences between coastal and non-coastal counties are also evident in Figure 2, particularly in the West, where coastal counties grew more slowly than non-coastal ones.7 Nationwide, while some coastal counties grew rapidly in the 1990s, their overall growth rate of 11 percent was exceeded by that of non-coastal counties (up 15 percent). Over one half of all Americans (53 percent or 148.3 million people) lived in a coastal county in 2000.

Five counties more than doubled their populations during the 1990s. Douglas County, Colorado (south of Denver) had the largest rate of population growth between 1990 and 2000, increasing by 191 percent. Following Douglas were Forsyth County, Georgia (north of Atlanta), up 123 percent; Elbert County, Colorado (southeast of Denver, adjacent to the metropolitan area), up 106 percent; Henry County, Georgia (east of Atlanta), 103 percent; and Park County, Colorado (southwest of Denver), up 102 percent.

  back to top
  Interesting Questions
 

How Did the Population Change in the Ten Largest American Cities?
Eight of the 10 largest cities in 2000 gained population in the 1990s; only Philadelphia and Detroit declined in size. New York remained the country's largest city, passing the eight million threshold for the first time. Phoenix was the fastest growing of the 10 largest cities, up by 34 percent over the decade.

City and State Population Change, 1990 - 2000
April 1, 1990 April 1, 2000 Number %
New York, NY 7,322,564 8,008,278 685,714 9.4
Los Angeles, CA 3,485,398 3,694,820 209,422 6
Chicago , IL 2,783,726 2,896,016 112,290 4
Houston, TX 1,630,553 1,953,631 323,078 19.8
Philadelphia, PA 1,585,577 1,517,550 -68,027 -4.3
Phoenix, AZ 983,403 1,321,045 337,642 34.3
San Diego, CA 1,110,549 1,223,400 112,851 10.2
Dallas, TX 1,006,877 1,188,580 181,703 18
San Antonio, TX 935,933 1,144,646 208,713 22.3
Detroit, MI 1,027,974 951,270 -76,704 -7.5
Population Change and 2000 Share for the Largest Metropolitan Areas: 1990 to 2000
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000; 1990 Census, Population and Housing Unit Counts, United States (1990 CPH-2-1).

New York also had the largest numerical increase of any city, gaining 686,000 people. The 1990s was the first decade since the 1930s that New York City led in city population growth.

Los Angeles gained the most population in each of the decades from the 1940s through the 1990s, with the exception of the 1970s, when Houston gained the most.

Have Any More Counties Crossed the One Million Population Threshold?
Four counties exceeded the one million mark for the first time in Census 2000: Clark County, Nevada (1.4 million); Palm Beach County, Florida (1.1 million); Franklin County, Ohio (1.1 million); and St. Louis County, Missouri (1.0 million).

 

 

 

Endnotes
11990 populations shown in this report were originally published in 1990 Census reports and do not include subsequent revisions resulting from boundary or other changes.
back to article
2 This increase may be caused by changes in census coverage, as well as births, deaths, and net immigration.
back to article
3The Northeast region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Midwest includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The South includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The West includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
back to article
4 Washington, DC, treated as a State equivalent for statistical purposes, had a larger percent gain than Florida in the 1910s and 1930s.
back to article
5 This report uses the June 30, 1999 metropolitan areas as defined by the Office of Management and Budget for all 1990 and 2000 metropolitan area populations. All metropolitan areas in the text are either metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) or consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSAs). There are 276 metropolitan areas in the United States--258 MSAs and 18 CMSAs. In some cases, an abbreviated version of the full MSA or CMSA name was used in the text and tables.
back to article
6 The U.S.-Mexico county-based border region includes 25 counties in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The U.S.- Canada county-based border region includes 64 counties in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska.
back to article
7 Coastal areas as defined by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, 1992. Covers 673 counties and equivalent areas with at least 15 percent of their land area either in a coastal watershed (drainage area) or in a coastal cataloging unit (a coastal area between watersheds).
back to article

  back to top
   
  Adapted from U.S. Census Bureau, Population Change and Distribution: 1990 to 2000, by Marc J. Perry and Paul J. Mackun (with Josephine D. Baker, Colleen D. Joyce, Lisa R. Lollock, and Lucinda S. Pearson) in Census 2000 Brief Series.
  back to top