U.S. Population, 1790-2000: Always Growing

U.S. Population, 1790-2000: Always Growing


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The population of the colonies that later became the United States increased steadily in the decades prior to, and including, the American revolution. The tendency in agricultural economies for early marriage and large numbers of children resulted in regular population growth during the decades preceding 1830, with only a small contribution from immigration.After 1830, immigration began to grow again. Although the birth rate showed a decline, the net population growth rate remained high until after the Civil War. After a small rise in the next decade, the decade of The Great Depression gave America its lowest decadal increase ever at 7.2%.Henry A. Wallace wrote in his book New Frontiers in 1934, that the end of population growth in the United States as in sight. "Today, immigration is mostly shut out. It appears that by 1950 our population will probably reach its peak, around a hundred and fifty million people, and then start declining."Wallace was correct about the 1950 census, but otherwise missed the trend. In the postwar period, the "Baby Boom" reversed the decline. In recent years, the arrival of millions of immigrants from Mexico and other countries, along with tendency of Hispanic households to larger numbers of children, have been the major factors in continued population growth.

Census Year

Total
Population

Increase

Increase
%

Urban
%

Rural
%

1790

3,929,214

-

-

5.1

94.9

1800

5,308,483

1,379,269

35.1

6.1

93.9

1810

7,239,881

1,931,398

36.4

15.4

92.7

1820

9,638,453

2,398,572

33.1

7.2

92.8

1830

12,860,702

3,222,249

33.4

8.8

91.2

1840

17,063,353

4,202,651

32.7

10.8

89.2

1850

23,191,876

6,128,523

35.9

15.4

84.6

1860

31,443,321

8,251,445

35.6

19.8

80.2

1870

38,558,371

7,115,050

22.6

25.7

74.3

1880

50,189,209

11,630,838

30.2

28.2

71.8

1890

62,979,766

12,790,557

25.5

35.1

64.9

1900

76,212,168

13,232,402

21.0

39.6

60.4

1910

92,228,496

16,016,328

21.0

45.6

54.4

1920

106,021,537

13,793,041

15.0

51.2

48.8

1930

123,202,624

17,181,087

16.2

56.1

43.9

1940

142,164,569

18,961,945

15.4

56.5

43.5

1950

161,325,798

19,161,229

14.5

64.0

36.0

1960

189,323,175

27,997,377

18.5

69.9

30.1

1970

213,302,031

23,978,856

13.4

73.6

26.3

1980

236,542,199

23,240,168

11.4

73.7

26.3

1990

258,709,873

22,167,674

9.8

75.2

24.8

2000

291,421,906

32,712,033

13.2

81.0

19.0

NOTE: New method for determining Urban/Rural designation is used in figures for 1950 and later.