US Census 2010 results are out – what do they reveal?
The latest US Census was conducted on 1 April 2010, but was no April Fool. Regular users of Census data will be aware that the Australian Census will be held this August, and will no doubt reveal much about the nature of population change in country over the last five years.
The release of the US Census data gives us a bit of a taster as to some of the statistics we can expect to see from our own Census when the results are released in mid 2012.
There are considerable differences between the United States and the Australian censuses, the most noticeable of which is the size of the form. The 2010 US Census included just 10 questions (one of which asked for a phone number), which fitted onto one page. Not only is there less information in the US Census, but it is conducted less often – every 10 years – which means the results of the last one have been long awaited for.
Another difference is the nature of field operations – most returns in the US are via mail (74% in 2010) with the remainder being collected via field staff. This contrasts with Australian operations which still employ field staff to deliver and collect most forms, but with internet returns becoming increasingly common.
2010 US Census data will be released progressively over the coming months, but what does the data say so far?
- The US population hit 308.7m in 2010, up from 281.4m in 2000. The 100m mark was reached sometime in the 1910s (based on a 1920 population of 106m).
- Though coming off a small base, Nevada has been the fastest growing state since the 1950s. Between 2000 and 2010 the population grew by over 35%.
- The District of Colombia (Washington DC) lost population in every decade in the second half of the twentieth century. The population in 2010 was 601,720 compared to 802,180 in 1950 and despite modest growth in the last decade, the population was still lower than in 1990.
- In the decade ending 2010, Michigan was the only State to lose population (-0.6%). The 2010 population was 9.88m , down from 9.94m in 2000. Perhaps they will hit the 10m mark in 2020 if this trend is reversed in the coming years!
- The eastern states are the most densely populated. The District of Colombia is the most densely populated state at 9,857 people per square mile. New York might be a densely populated city, but the state includes vast rural areas and as such it is ranked ninth in the US at 411 people per square mile.
- California is the only western mainland state to record population density of more than 200 people per square mile. The rate of 239 people per square mile was a fifteen fold increase on the 1910 figure.
- Unsurprisingly, Alaska was the least densely populated state in 2010 (1.2 people per square mile) – less than Western Australia (2.4) but more than the Northern Territory (0.4).
- Some things are bigger than Texas. California is the state with the largest population in 2010 (37.3m), followed by Texas (25.1m). However, Texas recorded a larger volume of population increase (4.3 million people over the decade – similar to the population of Sydney!).
- For the first half of the twentieth century, New York was the most populous state, but it was overtaken by California in the 1960s and by Texas in the 1990s (see graph below). Over the last century, the US population has not only grown substantially, but there has been a shift in its distribution towards the west and south. In 1910, 60% of the US population lived in the north east and mid west, in 2010 60% live in the west and south.
Check out this fantastic visualisation from Data Pointed to see how the population has changed across the USA over the last 100 years.
The impact of natural disasters?
Counts for small areas are being released on a state by state basis. There are currently data available for nine states, including Louisiana. This data shows that the four parishes in the south eastern corner all lost population between 2000 and 2010. Some of this loss is attributable to the impact of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the area in 2005. Though New Orleans was famously impacted by the disaster, its population has been declining for many decades due to outmigration. As such, it is difficult to attribute population loss to the hurricane. The neighbouring parish of St Bernard, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, has recorded massive population loss since the hurricane, recording a 2010 population of 35,900 compared to 67,230 in 2000. The scale of destruction that occurred here and the impact on population levels may provide an insight into the results we can expect to see in the 2011 Census for towns in Victoria and Queensland impacted by natural disasters in the last two years.
Explore for yourself
Please leave a comment and tell us what you have discovered about the US population, and if you enjoyed this post, please share it.
.id is a team of demographers, population forecasters, spatial planners, urban economists, and data experts who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help governments and organisations understand their local areas. Access our free demographic resources here