U.S. Population to Hit 300 Million in 2006

The U.S. population is about to top the 300 million mark, according to Census Bureau estimates.

The U.S. population is on target to hit 300 million this fall and it’s a good bet the milestone baby — or immigrant — will be Hispanic. No one will know for sure because the date and time will be just an estimate. But Latinos — immigrants and those born in this country — are driving the population growth, accounting for almost half the increase last year, more than any other ethnic or racial group. White non-Hispanics, who make up about two-thirds of the population, accounted for less than one-fifth of the increase.

When the population reached 200 million in 1967, there was no accurate tally of U.S. Hispanics. The first effort to count Hispanics came in the 1970 census, and the results were dubious. The Census Bureau counted about 9.6 million Latinos, a little less than 5 percent of the population, but the bureau acknowledged that figure was inflated.

In 1967, there were fewer than 10 million people in the U.S. who were born in other countries; that was not even one in 20. Today, there are 36 million immigrants, about one in eight.

The speed of this increase is stunning. The population of the country has increased 50 percent in less than my lifetime and has virtually doubled since the 1950 Census.

U.S. Population, 1790-2000

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

132,164,569

18,961,945

15.4

56.5

43.5

1950

151,325,798

19,161,229

14.5

64.0

36.0

1960

179,323,175

27,997,377

18.5

69.9

30.1

1970

203,302,031

23,978,856

13.4

73.6

26.3

1980

226,542,199

23,240,168

11.4

73.7

26.3

1990

248,709,873

22,167,674

9.8

75.2

24.8

2000

281,421,906

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.

As staggering as that increase is, however, as the table above makes clear, the pace of growth is much slower than at several other junctures in our history. The thing that is unusual is that the growth is predominantly from a single, non-English speaking, linguistic group.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Explain to me again how a Congressional representative was omly able to represent adequately a district of about 40,000 constituents (roughly the size of a Chicago ward) in 1790 (Washington thought that was too many) and now is able to represent a constituency of more than 400,000.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Even more stunning than the rapidity of the population increase is the change in the economy and structure of the country.

    In 1900 90% of all adult males reported their occupation to the census as “farmer”. Now the percent of people in farm and farm-related jobs is under 15% and heading for the cellar.

    Urban vs. rural is a bit of a misnomer—lots of large cities have lower populations than they did 35 years ago. But suburban population has grown incredibly. What we’ve seen is a sort of hollowing out of the much of the countryside as people come to urban areas for jobs and lifestyle.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Dave: Both true. Of course, a House delegation of 7,500 would, to say the least, be rather unwieldy.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Yet another advantage! 😉

  5. wom says:

    If the US population is growing at a rate of .91% according to the CIA, that’s 2.71 million new inhabitants per year.

    Being 3rd largest, that’s a pretty impressive leap annually. It also means that the US economy is gonna keep on growing to sustain the growth in population. This has horrible implications on energy usage in a well developed economy like that of the United States.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    This has horrible implications on energy usage in a well developed economy like that of the United States.

    Well, yes, energy use will grow. But the U. S. uses proportionally less energy for each additional point oF GDP growth. This is in contrast to China which uses proportionally more.

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    The thing that is unusual is that the growth is predominantly from a single, non-English speaking, linguistic group.

    Actually, from a per capita standpoint, the Mexican immigration is nothing compared to the German migrations of the early 19th Century. Few of those immigrants spoke English, either. Indeed, until the early 1950’s, I believe that German was one of the two official languages of the state of Pennsylvania. And localized minorities, such as Chinese and Italians, had their own era of large-scale immigration.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    During the Great Hunger, roughly 1846-1855, nearly a million Irishmen emigrated to the United States. In 1850 they comprised the largest portion of the foreign-born population—roughly 43%.

    Almost all of the Famine Irish settled in the cities and in 1847 Boston, for example, with a population of 115,000 Anglo-Saxon Protestants, absorbed 37,000 Irish Catholics. In 1847 alone New York add 52,000 Irishmen to its population of 372,000.

  9. floyd says:

    take another look at that chart and show me the “baby boom”

  10. Floyd,

    Its simple. Just look at 50 year marks starting with 1790.

    1790 to 1840 – 4M to 17M for a bit over 4x growth
    1840 to 1890 – 17M to 63M for a bit under 4x
    1890 to 1940 – 63M to 132M for a bit more than 2x
    1940 to 1990 – 132M to 248M for quite a bit below 2x

    So you can see that the baby boom caused by soldiers coming home from the war in 1945 has yielded unprecedented growth in this country. It’s been in all the papers. Don’t you believe the MSM?