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. 

In The News

Health

Voting

Census

Census Bureau Says States Won’t See Data Needed for Redistricting Until Late September
Redistricting
Census Bureau Says States Won’t See Data Needed for Redistricting Until Late September
February 12, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - There's no question that the once-every-10-year process of redistricting is off to a slow start.  Though the U.S. Census Bureau ended its collection of data for the 2020 census on Oct. 15, 2020, it missed the December statutory deadline for the delivery of apportionment... Read More

Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census
Census
Calendar Timing Means Virus Deaths Won't be Seen in Census

The human loss from the coronavirus will not be reflected in the 2020 census because of a matter of timing, which could save a congressional seat for New York but cost Alabama one. Because the start of the pandemic in the U.S. and the April 1... Read More

Litigants Take More Cooperative Approach in Census Lawsuit
Census
Litigants Take More Cooperative Approach in Census Lawsuit

Attorneys for a coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration over accuracy concerns about the 2020 census say they're hopeful about reaching an agreement with the new Biden administration as both sides take a more cooperative approach. Attorneys for the coalition... Read More

Census Estimates Show Population Decline in 16 States
State News
Census Estimates Show Population Decline in 16 States
January 22, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - New Census Bureau estimates show 16 states saw population declines last year as the nation experienced its slowest overall growth since the Great Depression, a new Pew Charitable Trusts analysis shows. According to the analysis, which first appeared on the Trusts' Stateline Daily, the... Read More

Census Bureau Director to Resign Amid Criticism Over Data
Census
Census Bureau Director to Resign Amid Criticism Over Data

Facing criticism that he was acceding to President Donald Trump's demand to produce citizenship information at the expense of data quality, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that he planned to resign with the change in presidential administrations. Dillingham said in a statement that... Read More

Attorney: Congressional Seat Data Not Ready Until February
Congress
Attorney: Congressional Seat Data Not Ready Until February

A Trump administration attorney said Monday that the numbers used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets won’t be ready until February, putting in jeopardy an effort by President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from those figures. The U.S. Census... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top