The Population Rank of Every U.S. State Over 100 Years
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Chart: The Population Rank of Every U.S. State Over 100 Years

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The Population Rank of Every U.S. State Over 100 Years

The Population Rank of Every U.S. State Over 100 Years

“Go west, young man, and grow up with the country.”

Popularized by Horace Greeley, the editor of the New-York Tribune, these words formed one of the great catchphrases at the height of the Manifest Destiny era in the 19th century.

Although that period is still a few chapters back in the history books, the fact is the West Coast is still relatively new today. Los Angeles was only incorporated in 1850, Portland in 1851, and Seattle in 1869.

And throughout the 20th century – Americans were moving westward in droves, ultimately culminating in California taking over the title of the most populous state in the union by the year 1960.

Population Rank by State

Today’s visualization is a bump chart from Aaron Penne, and it shows the population rank of U.S. states and D.C. over the timeframe of a century (1917-2017) using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

When a state passes another in population in a given year, it “bumps” the other state from that place in the ranking. Big movers are also highlighted in orange (up) and black (down) on the graph.

Let’s look at the numbers for the first year on the graph, which is 1917:

RankStatePopulation (1917)
#1New York9,993,000
#2Pennsylvania8,578,000
#3Illinois6,313,000
#4Ohio5,510,000
#5Texas4,563,000
#6Massachusetts3,738,000
#7Missouri3,470,000
#8Michigan3,451,000
#9California3,171,000
#10New Jersey2,976,000
#11Indiana2,910,000
#12Georgia2,885,000
#13Wisconsin2,587,000
#14North Carolina2,546,000
#15Kentucky2,421,000
#16Iowa2,382,000
#17Alabama2,361,000
#18Tennessee2,331,000
#19Minnesota2,329,000
#20Virginia2,313,000
#21Oklahoma1,960,000
#22Mississippi1,820,000
#23Lousiana1,795,000
#24Kansas1,748,000
#25Arkansas1,737,000
#26South Carolina1,675,000
#27West Virginia1,439,000
#28Maryland1,428,000
#29Connecticut1,327,000
#30Washington1,287,000
#31Nebraska1,285,000
#32Colorado910,000
#33Florida895,000
#34Maine777,000
#35Oregon763,000
#36North Dakota661,000
#37Rhode Island606,000
#38South Dakota599,000
#39Montana505,000
#40New Hampshire447,000
#41Utah444,000
#42Idaho413,000
#43District of Columbia385,000
#44Vermont372,000
#45New Mexico361,000
#46Arizona311,000
#47Delaware222,000
#48Wyoming186,000
#49Nevada81,000

New York led the pack with just short of 10 million people, which made up 10% of the population of the country as a whole. Meanwhile, California had only 3.2 million people – and amazingly, Nevada only had 81,000 people in 1917.

Now let’s jump forward 50 years to 1967, when the U.S. population was closer to 200 million.

RankStatePopulation (1967)
#1California19,176,000
#2New York17,935,000
#3Pennsylvania11,681,000
#4Illinois10,947,000
#5Texas10,599,000
#6Ohio10,414,000
#7Michigan8,630,000
#8New Jersey6,928,000
#9Florida6,242,000
#10Massachusetts5,594,000
#11Indiana5,053,000
#12North Carolina4,952,000
#13Missouri4,539,000
#14Virginia4,508,000
#15Georgia4,408,000
#16Wisconsin4,303,000
#17Tennessee3,859,000
#18Maryland3,757,000
#19Minnesota3,659,000
#20Louisiana3,581,000
#21Alabama3,458,000
#22Washington3,174,000
#23Kentucky3,172,000
#24Connecticut2,935,000
#25Iowa2,793,000
#26South Carolina2,533,000
#27Oklahoma2,489,000
#28Mississippi2,228,000
#29Kansas2,197,000
#30Colorado2,053,000
#31Oregon1,979,000
#32Arkansas1,901,000
#33West Virginia1,769,000
#34Arizona1,646,000
#35Nebraska1,457,000
#36Utah1,019,000
#37Maine1,004,000
#38New Mexico1,000,000
#39Rhode Island909,000
#40District of Columbia791,000
#41Hawaii723,000
#42Montana701,000
#43New Hampshire697,000
#44Idaho688,000
#45South Dakota671,000
#46North Dakota626,000
#47Delaware525,000
#48Nevada449,000
#49Vermont423,000
#50Wyoming322,000
#51Alaska278,000

In just half of a century, California gained 16 million people, and jumped to the #1 spot in the process. That’s a 504% increase over its 1917 population.

The Largest Increases in Population

For a final table data, we’ll show you the 2017 state populations compared to the 1917 state populations.

The table is sorted by the percentage increase over the course of that 100 years of time.

RankStatePopulation (1917)Population (2017)% Increase
#1Nevada81,0002,998,0393,601%
#2Florida895,00020,984,4002,245%
#3Arizona311,0007,016,2702,156%
#4California3,171,00039,536,6531,147%
#5Utah444,0003,101,833599%
#6Texas4,563,00028,304,596520%
#7Colorado910,0005,607,154516%
#8New Mexico361,0002,088,070478%
#9Washington1,287,0007,405,743475%
#10Oregon763,0004,142,776443%
#11Delaware222,000961,939333%
#12Maryland1,428,0006,052,177324%
#13Idaho413,0001,716,943316%
#14North Carolina2,546,00010,273,419304%
#15Virginia2,313,0008,470,020266%
#16Georgia2,885,00010,429,379262%
#17Wyoming186,000579,315211%
#18New Jersey2,976,0009,005,644203%
#19New Hampshire447,0001,342,795200%
#20South Carolina1,675,0005,024,369200%
#21Michigan3,451,0009,962,311189%
#22Tennessee2,331,0006,715,984188%
#23Connecticut1,327,0003,588,184170%
#24Lousiana1,795,0004,684,333161%
#25Minnesota2,329,0005,576,606139%
#26Indiana2,910,0006,666,818129%
#27Wisconsin2,587,0005,795,483124%
#28Ohio5,510,00011,658,609112%
#29Montana505,0001,050,493108%
#30Alabama2,361,0004,874,747106%
#31Illinois6,313,00012,802,023103%
#32Oklahoma1,960,0003,930,864101%
#33New York9,993,00019,849,39999%
#34Kentucky2,421,0004,454,18984%
#35Massachusetts3,738,0006,859,81984%
#36District of Columbia385,000693,97280%
#37Missouri3,470,0006,113,53276%
#38Rhode Island606,0001,059,63975%
#39Arkansas1,737,0003,004,27973%
#40Maine777,0001,335,90772%
#41Vermont372,000623,65768%
#42Kansas1,748,0002,913,12367%
#43Mississippi1,820,0002,984,10064%
#44Nebraska1,285,0001,920,07649%
#45Pennsylvania8,578,00012,805,53749%
#46South Dakota599,000869,66645%
#47Iowa2,382,0003,145,71132%
#48West Virginia1,439,0001,815,85726%
#49North Dakota661,000755,39314%
#50Alaska739,795n/a
#51Hawaii1,427,538n/a

Not surprisingly, Nevada takes the cake with a 3,601% gain, going from 81,000 people to today’s 2,998,039.

Meanwhile, North Dakota had the smallest gain – it only added 14% more people over a whole century of time.

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Misc

Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.

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Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Sunstroke6,368
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Drowning10,386
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

Drowning

The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

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