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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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Personal Finance

Mapped: The Income a Family Needs to Live Comfortably in Every U.S. State

Families in expensive states require over $270,000 annually to live comfortably.

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A map showing the income that two working adults with two children need to live comfortably in each U.S. state.

The Income a Family Needs to Live Comfortably in Every U.S. State

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Families in the top five most expensive U.S. states require an annual income exceeding $270,000 to live comfortably.

This visualization illustrates the income necessary for two working adults with two children to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in each state.

“Comfortable” is defined as the income needed to cover a 50/30/20 budget, with 50% allocated to necessities like housing and utilities, 30% to discretionary spending, and 20% to savings or investments.

The calculations for family income needed in each state were done by SmartAsset, using the cost of necessities sourced from the MIT Living Wage Calculator, last updated on Feb. 14, 2024.

Massachusetts Tops the List

Massachusetts is the most expensive state to live comfortably in, requiring a total family income of about $301,184. Hawaii ($294,611) comes in second, followed by Connecticut ($279,885).

Housing is one main reason Massachusetts is an expensive state to live in, particularly in the Boston area. In addition, the state also has a high cost of living, including expenses such as healthcare and utilities.

RankStateIncome for 2 working adults raising 2 children
1Massachusetts$301,184
2Hawaii$294,611
3Connecticut$279,885
4New York$278,970
5California$276,723
6Colorado$264,992
7Washington$257,421
8Oregon$257,338
9New Jersey$251,181
10Rhode Island$249,267
11Vermont$248,352
12Minnesota$244,774
13New Hampshire$244,109
14Alaska$242,611
15Maryland$239,450
16Nevada$237,286
17Virginia$235,206
18Illinois$231,962
19Arizona$230,630
20Pennsylvania$230,464
21Maine$229,549
22Delaware$228,966
23Wisconsin$225,056
24Utah$218,483
25Michigan$214,490
26Nebraska$213,075
27Georgia$212,826
28Montana$211,411
28Iowa$211,411
30Idaho$211,245
31North Carolina$209,331
31Ohio$209,331
33Florida$209,082
34Indiana$206,003
35New Mexico$203,923
36Wyoming$203,424
37Missouri$202,259
38North Dakota$202,176
39Texas$201,344
40South Carolina$200,762
41Kansas$196,768
42Tennessee$195,770
43Oklahoma$194,106
44Alabama$193,606
45South Dakota$192,608
46Kentucky$190,112
47Louisiana$189,613
48West Virginia$189,363
49Arkansas$180,794
50Mississippi$177,798

Meanwhile, Mississippi is the least expensive state for a family to live comfortably, requiring $177,798 per year. Arkansas ($180,794) comes in second, followed by West Virginia ($189,363). In common, all these states share low prices of housing.

Learn More About Cost of Living From Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out this graphic, which ranks the median down payment for a house by U.S. state.

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