Census Bureau Survey Finds America Remains a Nation of Small Towns

May 22, 2020 by Dan McCue
A typical scene in one of America's small towns, Key West, Fla. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Most Americans live in small incorporated towns and villages with populations of fewer than 5,000, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds.

Released on Thursday, the bureau’s latest population estimates for cities and towns found that of the nation’s 328.2 million people, an estimated 206.9 million (roughly 63%) lived in an incorporated community as of July 1, 2019.

Further, the report says, of the 19,500 incorporated places that stretch from sea to shining sea, about 76% of communities have fewer than 5,000 people, and of those, 42% had fewer than 500 people.

As most Americans know, the Census Bureau is currently conducting its latest once-in-a-decade count of the U.S. population. Thursday’s report is one of a number of smaller annual estimates that look at population trends between decennial counts.

The new survey also found that while most people live outside major cities, those cities are also among the fastest growing communities in the nation.

Currently, only about 4% of cities in the nation had a population of 50,000 or more in 2019, yet nearly 39% of the U.S. population — 127.8 million people — lived in those cities.

Overall, between the 2010 census and July 1, 2019, large cities in the South — places with a population of 50,000 or more — grew at a faster pace than in any other U.S region.

Since 2010, the population in large southern cities increased by an average of 11.8%. The big cities in the West grew by an average of 9.1%. In contrast, large cities in the Northeast and Midwest had lower rates of growth of 1.5% and 3.1% respectively.

On average, small cities and towns, with populations of less than 5,000 people, have seen uneven growth across U.S. regions:

  • In the Northeast, the population of small towns decreased by 3.0%;
  • In the Midwest, the population of small towns decreased by 1.7%;
  • In the South, the populations of small towns grew by 6.7%; and,
  • In the West, small towns saw the largest growth with a population increase of 13.3%.

Mid-sized cities in the Northeast — places with populations of at least 5,000 but less than 10,000 — saw relative stability with a small average decline of 0.9% since the 2010 Census.

Mid-sized cities in the other regions experienced population growth, on average. 

Census

Census Bureau Survey Finds America Remains a Nation of Small Towns
Census
Census Bureau Survey Finds America Remains a Nation of Small Towns
May 22, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Most Americans live in small incorporated towns and villages with populations of fewer than 5,000, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau finds. Released on Thursday, the bureau's latest population estimates for cities and towns found that of the nation's 328.2 million people,... Read More

Census Bureau Nears Goal for 2020 Count, But Crucial Areas Lag
Census
Census Bureau Nears Goal for 2020 Count, But Crucial Areas Lag

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau has reached the cusp of its goal for the nation to respond to the 2020 count, but with rates still lagging in minority neighborhoods, advocates and members of Congress worry that people in diverse communities will get missed amid the coronavirus... Read More

Census Bureau to Restart Operations in Rural Areas of Country
Census
Census Bureau to Restart Operations in Rural Areas of Country

After suspending most of its operations in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau announced Monday it plans to restart some of its fieldwork in rural areas around the country. Those operations had been delayed through early June, but agency officials said employees would... Read More

Census Delay Could Put Off New Voting Districts, Primaries
Census
Census Delay Could Put Off New Voting Districts, Primaries

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau needs more time to wrap up the once-a-decade count because of the coronavirus, opening the possibility of delays in drawing new legislative districts that could help determine what political party is in power, what laws pass or... Read More

Census Bureau to Gather Data on Disruptions Caused by Coronavirus Outbreak
Census
Census Bureau to Gather Data on Disruptions Caused by Coronavirus Outbreak
April 22, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The Census Bureau is launching two new surveys to gather data on disruptions to households and small businesses due to the coronavirus outbreak. The bureau received emergency approval from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs on Sunday to conduct a Household Pulse Survey... Read More

Census Delays Pose Risks for Legislative Map Drawing
Census
Census Delays Pose Risks for Legislative Map Drawing

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau’s new plan for a delayed 2020 census — if the agency can pull it off — could mean chaos for states drawing new legislative maps next year. Hamstrung by the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau has proposed starting major field operations... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top