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U.S. Census Bureau Releases Data on Population Distribution and Change in the U.S. Based on Analysis of 2010 Census Results

Following the completion of release of 2010 Census local-level data to all states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the U.S. Census Bureau today released a detailed brief on the population distribution of the nation and population change since 2000.

In this first in a series of 2010 Census briefs, Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010, the Census Bureau analyzed the nation's population change for the United States as a whole, as well as its regions, states, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, counties and places.

The U.S. population over the past decade increased by 9.7 percent, surpassing the 300 million mark to reach 308.7 million, but at a rate slower than recent decades. Since 1900, only the 1930s experienced lower growth than the past decade, which saw growth similar to the 1980s (9.8 percent).

South and West Lead in Growth

The South and West accounted for 84.4 percent of the U.S. population increase from 2000 to 2010. This was enough for the population of the West to surpass that of the Midwest during the decade. The 10 most populous states contained more than half of the U.S. population in 2010, with approximately one-quarter of the population living in the three largest states: California, Texas and New York.

Similar to the 1990s, the fastest growing states during the past decade were in the South and West, although growth in most states was lower. Nevada grew the most at 35.1 percent, followed by Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas. Nevada is the only state that has maintained a growth rate of 25.0 percent or greater for the last three decades.

While the 1990s saw growth in every state, the past decade saw one state - Michigan -decline in population, losing 0.6 percent. States that had the slowest rates of growth were Louisiana, Ohio and Rhode Island, all of which grew by less than 2.0 percent.

The District of Columbia experienced its first decennial population increase since the 1940s.

Metro Areas

All 10 of the most populous metro areas in 2010 grew over the last decade. Approximately one out of every 10 people in the United States lived in either Los Angeles or New York, the nation's two most populous metro areas.

Several metro areas accounted for large portions of their respective state's 2010 population and growth since 2000. Las Vegas accounted for almost three-quarters of Nevada's population and over four-fifths of its growth. The Atlanta metro area was responsible for more than half of Georgia's 2010 population and more than two-thirds of the state's growth. The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metro areas together accounted for almost half of the population of Texas and more than half of the state's growth.

Overall, the fastest growing metro areas in the country were Palm Coast, Fla. (92.0 percent), St. George, Utah (52.9 percent), Las Vegas, Nev. (41.8 percent), Raleigh, N.C. (41.8 percent) and Cape Coral, Fla. (40.3 percent).


Almost two-thirds of the nation's counties gained population between 2000 and 2010. Most counties along the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts grew between 2000 and 2010, as did most counties adjacent to the southern U.S. border.

Nine of the 10 most populous counties grew over the last decade, led by Maricopa, Ariz., with a rate of 24.2 percent and Harris, Texas, with a rate of 20.3 percent. Los Angeles, Calif., was the largest county in 2010, followed by Cook, Ill., and Harris, Texas.

An almost unbroken chain of coastal counties with population densities of 300 people per square mile or more runs from New Hampshire through northern Virginia.


Nine of the 10 most populous cities in 2010 gained population over the last decade. Chicago, which grew between 1990 and 2000, was the only one of these cities to decline in population.

Led by New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the six most populous cities kept their same ranks as in 2000. Fourth-ranked Houston surpassed the 2 million mark during the decade. Of the cities ranked from seventh through 10th, San Antonio moved ahead of San Diego and Dallas. Detroit dropped out of the top 10 and was replaced by San Jose, Calif.

Editor's note: The Office of Management and Budget's statistical area definitions (for metro and micro areas) are those issued by that agency in December 2009. Metro areas contain at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population and micro areas contain at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population. Both metro and micro areas consist of one or more whole counties or county equivalents. Metro area titles are abbreviated in the text of the news release. Full titles are shown in the metro and micro area table in the census brief.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016