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Demographics

Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

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Animation: Visualizing Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration

America is a nation of immigrants, and though the country has seen a lot of new arrivals over the past two centuries, the rate of immigration has been far from steady.

War, famine, economic boom and bust, religious persecution, and government intervention have all caused wild swings in the rate of immigration from countries around the world.

Today’s striking animation, by Max Galka, is a great way to see changes in immigration over time. Inflows from specific countries rise and fall, and the top three countries of origin change numerous times over the years.

Below, is another way to look at the ebb and flow of American immigration since the early 1800s.

U.S. Immigration Charts
An important note. This data excludes forced migration (slavery) and illegal immigration.

Let’s look at the “waves” in more detail.

Wave one: The Old Immigration

From 1820 to 1870, over 7.5 million immigrants made their way over to the United States, effectively doubling the young country’s population in only half a decade.

Ireland, which was in the throes of the Potato Famine, saw half its population set sail for the U.S. during that time. This wave of immigration can still be seen in today’s demographics. There are now more Irish-Americans than there are Irish nationals.

The magnetic pull of the New World was profoundly felt in Germany as well. Growing public unrest in the region, caused by heavy taxation and political censorship, culminated in the German revolutions of 1848-49. Faced with severe hardship at home, millions of Germans made their way to America over the 1800s. It’s estimated that one-third of the total ethnic German population in the world now lives in the United States.

Wave Two: Gold Rush

Much of America’s early immigration was from various points in Europe, but there was one prominent exception: China.

The discovery of gold in California inspired Chinese workers to seek their fortune in America. After a crop failure in Southern China in 1852, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants flooded into San Francisco.

Although the State of California was making millions of dollars off its Foreign Miners Tax, sentiment towards Chinese workers began to sour. Gold mines were being tapped out and white Californians blamed the Chinese for driving wages down.

Chinamen are getting to be altogether too plentiful in this country.

– John Bigler, Governor of California (1852-1856)

By 1882, the newly enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act had a chilling effect on Chinese immigration. The Exclusion Act has the dubious distinction of being the only American law barring a specific group from immigrating to the United States.

Wave Three: The New Immigration

The wave of immigration leading into the 20th century is referred to as The New Immigration.

In 1890, Ellis Island was designated as the main point of entry for newcomers entering the United States. In 1907 alone, Ellis Island processed a staggering 1,285,349 immigrants. To put this number in perspective, if all of those people settled in one place, they would’ve formed America’s fourth largest city almost overnight.

This massive influx of people into New York had profound implications on the city itself. In 1910, Manhattan’s population density was an astronomical 101,548 humans per square mile.

The immigrants arriving during this period – heavily represented by Italians, Hungarians, and Russians – were seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity. Certain industries, such as steel, meat-packing, and mining, were staffed by many new arrivals to the country.

During this time, one in four American workers were foreign-born.

The Great Depression

The National Origins Act’s quota system, which took effect in 1929, essentially slammed the door on most immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. Shortly after, the Great Depression further put a damper on immigration that would last well into the 20th century.

Wave Four: Mexico

After decades of sluggish immigration, the United States’ percentage of foreign-born citizens reached a low of 4.7% in 1970. But that was all about to change.

During the next decade, the number of states where Mexico was the top country of origin doubled in a single decade, and Mexicans became the dominant foreign-born population in the country. This migration was fueled by the Latin American debt crisis and later by NAFTA. The influx of cheap corn into Mexico caused hundreds of thousands of Mexicans from rural areas to search for more favorable economic opportunities. America was the obvious choice, particularly during the economic expansion of the 1990s.

U.S. Hispanic Population Map

This wave of immigration has shifted the country’s demographics considerably. Today, nearly one in five people in the United States are Hispanic.

Current Trends

Immigration trends are continually evolving, and America’s newest immigrants are often more likely to come from China or India. In fact, both countries surpassed Mexico as countries of origin for immigrants arriving in the U.S. in 2013. Today, the trend is even more pronounced.

us immigration top 5

Recent immigration numbers indicate that Asian immigrants will continue to shift America’s demographics in a new direction. Perhaps a new wave in the making?

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Demographics

Interactive: How the U.S. Population Has Changed in 10 Years, by State

The U.S. saw 7.4% population growth in the past decade, the lowest it’s been since the 1930s. How does population by state look today?

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U.S. Population Change in the Last Decade, by State

The U.S. is the third most-populated country in the world, behind only two Asian giants of China and India respectively. But within the country, a lot can change in 10 years, and populations are especially mutable in nature.

As people moved in and out of certain areas for both lifestyle and economic reasons, which U.S. state populations fluctuated the most?

Drawing from the latest Census Bureau data, we look at how each state’s resident populations evolved over the past decade. But first, a blast from the past.

Historical Trends: U.S. Population Since the 1930s

Population growth trends in the U.S. have been closely tied to the economic ebbs and flows experienced by the nation. In one stark example, the country’s 10-year population growth rate plummeted to just 7.3% due to the Great Depression.

US Population Growth % Change by Decade

This was later offset by the post-WWII “Baby Boom”, during which birth rates soared once more, bumping up the population 10-year growth rate to 18.5% in the 1950s. The Baby Boomer generation now wields the most influence over the U.S. economy and society thanks to the favorable economic conditions in which they were born.

However, U.S. population growth rates recently hit new lows—the slower pace in the 2010s is rivalling that of the 1930s. According to Brookings, there area few factors at play:

  • Falling fertility rate
  • An increase in deaths (aging population, overdose deaths)
  • Lower immigration rate

With all this in mind, how does the current landscape of the U.S. population by state look?

The Entire U.S. Population by State in 2020

The U.S. experienced 7.4% population growth between 2010-2020, which equates to the addition of 22.7 million people.

An impressive one-tenth of this growth occurred in California, and it remains the most populous state, rising above 39.5 million people in 2020. The SoCal megaregion—Los Angeles and San Diego—alone contributes more than $1.4 trillion to global economic output.

Area2020 Census Resident PopulationNumeric Change (2010-2020)% Change (2010-2020)
Alabama5,024,279244,5435.1%
Alaska733,39123,1603.3%
Arizona7,151,502759,48511.9%
Arkansas3,011,52495,6063.3%
California39,538,2232,284,2676.1%
Colorado5,773,714744,51814.8%
Connecticut3,605,94431,8470.9%
Delaware989,94892,01410.2%
District of Columbia (Territory)689,54587,82214.6%
Florida21,538,1872,736,87714.6%
Georgia10,711,9081,024,25510.6%
Hawaii1,455,27194,9707.0%
Idaho1,839,106271,52417.3%
Illinois12,812,508-18,124-0.1%
Indiana6,785,528301,7264.7%
Iowa3,190,369144,0144.7%
Kansas2,937,88084,7623.0%
Kentucky4,505,836166,4693.8%
Louisiana4,657,757124,3852.7%
Maine1,362,35933,9982.6%
Maryland6,177,224403,6727.0%
Massachusetts7,029,917482,2887.4%
Michigan10,077,331193,6912.0%
Minnesota5,706,494402,5697.6%
Mississippi2,961,279-6,018-0.2%
Missouri6,154,913165,9862.8%
Montana1,084,22594,8109.6%
Nebraska1,961,504135,1637.4%
Nevada3,104,614404,06315.0%
New Hampshire1,377,52961,0594.6%
New Jersey9,288,994497,1005.7%
New Mexico2,117,52258,3432.8%
New York20,201,249823,1474.2%
North Carolina10,439,388903,9059.5%
North Dakota779,094106,50315.8%
Ohio11,799,448262,9442.3%
Oklahoma3,959,353208,0025.5%
Oregon4,237,256406,18210.6%
Pennsylvania13,002,700300,3212.4%
Puerto Rico (Territory)3,285,874-439,915-11.8%
Rhode Island1,097,37944,8124.3%
South Carolina5,118,425493,06110.7%
South Dakota886,66772,4878.9%
Tennessee6,910,840564,7358.9%
Texas29,145,5053,999,94415.9%
Utah3,271,616507,73118.4%
Vermont643,07717,3362.8%
Virginia8,631,393630,3697.9%
Washington7,705,281980,74114.6%
West Virginia1,793,716-59,278-3.2%
Wisconsin5,893,718206,7323.6%
Wyoming576,85113,2252.3%
U.S. Total331,449,28122,703,7437.4%

*Note: U.S. total and 10-year percentage change includes District of Columbia but excludes Puerto Rico

Overall, there’s been a significant shift in population towards the Sun Belt region (stretching from Southeast to Southwest), where 62% of the U.S. now resides. Let’s take a closer look at the biggest gainers and decliners over time.

Gainers: Utah, Texas

Utah saw the quickest population growth rate of 18.4% in the last decade. Drawn in by strong economic prospects, net migration into the state is balancing out a decline in births. What’s interesting is that 80% of Utah’s population is concentrated in the Wasatch Front – a metro area anchored by Salt Lake City and the chain of cities and towns running north and south of Utah’s largest city.

A little further south, Texas swelled by almost 4 million residents in the last 10 years. Much of this growth took place in the “Texas Triangle”, which contains Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. This booming region of the country contributes over $1.2 trillion to global economic output.

Decliners: West Virginia, Puerto Rico

West Virginia lost the most people in a decade, seeing a numeric population decline of 59,278. This may be explained by an aging population—16% of West Virginians are 65 years old and above.

When territories are also taken into account, Puerto Rico saw the biggest percentage decline of 11.8%, or close to 44,000 people over 10 years. Many of them moved into the mainland, and especially into Florida, after two hurricanes hit the island in 2017.

Full Speed Ahead: States Competing On Forward Momentum

By 2025, California will be home to five of the fastest-growing urban U.S. cities. The unstoppable growth of the tech industry in Silicon Valley is partly behind this, as many people flock to the West Coast to fill the shoes of highly skilled jobs required.

But could Silicon Valley one day lose its steam? Current and projected population growth in Texas is bolstering its tech potential too—in fact, it’s been dubbed the next “Silicon Hills”, with many tech companies from SpaceX to Oracle choosing to camp out in Austin instead.

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Demographics

How Media Consumption Evolved Throughout COVID-19

This infographic examines trends in each generation’s media consumption to see how Americans adapted during the pandemic.

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How Media Consumption Evolved Throughout COVID-19

View the full size version of this infographic by clicking here

Media consumption spiked in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak as Americans actively sought information and entertainment while at home. Whether this changed over the course of 2020 remains unclear, however.

To dive deeper into the issue, this infographic explores each generation’s shifts in media consumption habits as the pandemic wore on.

Further below, we’ll also examine which media sources Americans deemed to be the most trustworthy, and why consumption habits may have changed for good.

Changes in American Media Consumption, by Generation

The data in this infographic comes from two surveys conducted by Global Web Index (GWI). The first was completed in April 2020 (N=2,337) and asked participants a series of questions regarding media consumption during COVID-19.

To see how consumption had changed by the end of the year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation commissioned GWI to complete a follow-up survey in December 2020 (N=2,014). The following tables provide a summary of the results.

Gen Z

Unsurprisingly, a significant percentage of Gen Z reported an increase in digital media consumption in April 2020 in comparison to pre-pandemic habits. This bump was driven by higher use of online videos, video games, and online TV/streaming films.

By December 2020, these media categories became even more popular with this cohort. Most notably, podcasts saw the highest increase, jumping almost 15% by the end of the year.

CategoryApril 2020December 2020Change (percentage points)
Podcasts10.9%25.8%+14.9%
Video Games29.9%42.1%+12.2%
Music Streaming28.0%34.6%+6.6%
Broadcast TV24.1%17.0%-7.1%
Online TV / streaming films36.8%39%+2.2%
Online Videos (Youtube/TikTok/etc.)51.4%59.1%+7.7%
Livestreams17.4%19.5%+2.1%
Books / literature17.1%20.1%+3.0%
Online Press19.9%17.0%-2.9%
Physical Press8.9%6.3%-2.6%
Radio17.8%10.7%-7.1%
None9.0%13.8%+4.8%

The popularity of traditional outlets like broadcast TV and radio declined from their April 2020 highs, though they are still up relative to pre-pandemic levels for Gen Z survey respondents.

Millennials

Results from the December 2020 survey show that Millennials trimmed their media consumption from earlier in the year. This was most apparent in news outlets (online and physical press), which saw double digit declines in popularity relative to April.

CategoryApril 2020December 2020Change (percentage points)
Podcasts20.9%26.3%+5.4%
Video Games32.1%29.6%-2.5%
Music Streaming37.4%30.2%-7.2%
Broadcast TV35.7%24.6%-11.1
Online TV / streaming films42.2%39.2%-3.0
Online Videos (Youtube/TikTok/etc.)44.9%42.5%-2.4%
Livestreams32.9%15.6%-17.3%
Books / literature20.4%24%+3.6%
Online Press37.0%16.5%-20.5%
Physical Press20.3%8.0%-12.3%
Radio27.2%17.9%-9.3%
None9.1%20.3%+11.2%

Books and podcasts were the only two categories to capture more interest from Millennials over the time period. It’s also worth noting that the percentage of respondents who said “none” for media consumption rose to 20.3%, up significantly from 9.1% in April.

Possible factors for the increase in “none” responses include easing government restrictions and a return to more normal work schedules.

Gen X

The media consumption habits of Gen X developed similarly to Millennials over the year.

CategoryApril 2020December 2020Change (percentage points)
Podcasts11.1%13.3%+2.2%
Video Games20.4%16.8%-3.6%
Music Streaming29.6%21.7%-7.9%
Broadcast TV46.4%29.8%-16.6%
Online TV / streaming films40.8%29.9%-10.9%
Online Videos (Youtube/TikTok/etc.)38.5%23.6%-14.9%
Livestreams23.4%8.4%-15.0%
Books / literature22.2%22.6%+0.4%
Online Press32.7%14.3%-18.4%
Physical Press7.6%4.6%-3.0%
Radio23.5%16.6%-6.9%
None16.0%28.9%+12.9%

Broadcast TV and online press saw the largest declines over the time period, while once again, podcasts and books were the only two categories to capture more interest relative to April. The percentage of respondents reporting “none” rose to 28.9%—a slightly higher share than that of Millennials.

Boomers

Media consumption trends among Baby Boomers were mixed, with some categories increasing and others decreasing since April. Broadcast TV saw the biggest decline in usage of all media types, but remained the most popular category for this cohort.

CategoryApril 2020December 2020Change (percentage points)
Podcasts4.4%7.9%+3.5%
Video Games10.5%9.5%-1.0%
Music Streaming13.7%14.4%+0.7%
Broadcast TV42.3%36.7%-5.6%
Online TV / streaming films22.5%22.0%-0.5%
Online videos (Youtube/TikTok/etc.)11.6%18.2%+6.6%
Livestreams8.8%6.5%-2.3%
Books / literature13.7%17.4%+3.7%
Online Press13.8%11.4%-2.4%
Physical Press7.1%4.6%-2.5%
Radio15.3%15.5%+0.2%
None23.0%31.0%+8.0%

Boomers also had the largest share of “none” respondents in both studies (23.0% in April and 31.0% in December).

Where do Americans Go For Trustworthy News?

To learn more about American media consumption—particularly when it came to staying updated on the pandemic—survey respondents were asked to confirm which of the following sources they found trustworthy.

Knight Foundation Trustworthy Sources

The deviations between each generation don’t appear to be too drastic, but there are some key takeaways from this data.

For starters, Gen Z appears to be more skeptical of mainstream news channels like CNN, with only 28.9% believing them to be trustworthy. This contrasts the most with Gen X, which saw 40.1% of its respondents give news channels the thumbs up.

This story is flipped when we turn to the World Health Organization (WHO). Gen Z demonstrated the highest levels of trust in information published by WHO, at 50.3% of respondents. Only 39.0% of Gen X could say the same.

By far the least trustworthy source was foreign governments’ websites. This category had the lowest average approval rating across the four generations, and scored especially poor with Boomers.

The Lasting Effects of the Pandemic

Habits that were picked up during 2020 are likely to linger, even as life finally returns to normal. To find out what’s changed, respondents were asked which categories of media they expected to continue consuming in elevated amounts.

The chart below shows each generation’s top three responses.

media consumption after COVID

Note that the top three for both Gen Z and Millennials are all digital and online categories (video games can be played offline, but the majority of popular titles are online). This contrasts with the preferences of Gen X and Boomers, who appear to be sticking with more traditional outlets in broadcast TV and books.

With consumption habits of younger and older Americans moving in opposite directions, advertisers and media companies will likely need a clear understanding of their target audiences in order to be successful.

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