The 50 US States Ranked By Population

By Ellen Kershner on June 12 2020 in Geography

The united states is the third most populated country in the world. Source: Shutterstock
The united states is the third most populated country in the world. Source: Shutterstock
  • When the United States was founded on July 4, 1776, there were 13 original colonies.
  • Their numbers of inhabitants do not directly correspond to their sizes.
  • According to the Public Policy institute of California, one of every eight United States residents lives in California.
  • In recent years, news outlets have reported that more and more California residents are moving out to other states.
  • As the tenth-largest state in square miles, Wyoming has the smallest population at just 567,025.

When the United States was founded on July 4, 1776, there were: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts (included Maine at the time) New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. The first three to become states were Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, joining in 1787; the final three were Arizona (1912), Alaska (1959) and Hawaii (1959).

Let us not forget that the U.S. also has seven major territories. These are Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. As the U.S. Constitution specifies, the way to become a state is to first become a territory. Territories need to be organized, then request statehood from Congress.

It makes sense that all of the top 10 highest populated states have one border that meets a body of water, including lakes and oceans. Here are all 50, ranked by population. 

The Largest Population: California 39,937,489

According to the Public Policy institute of California, one of every eight United States residents lives here in the Golden State (according to their 2019 data). World Population Review’s statistics show that Cali is way ahead of Texas, with close to 10 million more people. Texas is also much larger. Third-place Florida has around 7.5 million less than Texas and is much more diminutive in size than either.

So why is California home to so many? At the start of the 1900s, there were only two million people here. As people moved out west, the population grew to 10 million by the 1950s. Although the rate of growth has slowed, it certainly has not stopped. Migration here has shifted, though, and rather than being mostly domestic, more people move here from other countries: More than 10 million of the people who call California home are immigrants. This is more than any other state in the country; New York was second at 23 percent. The majority of these immigrants hail from Mexico, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, India, El Salvador, and Korea.

Here are some more 2018 Cali stats:

  • 39% of California state residents are Latino
  • 37% are white
  • 15% are Asian American
  • 6% are African American
  • 3% are multiracial
  • Less than 1% are Pacific Islander or American Indian

It sure is a melting pot, and also has some of the most famous cities in the world, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and San Francisco. Natural beauty abounds here too, with Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley, and Big Sur. Additional tourist attractions include Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Disneyland, Monterey, and Newport Beach. The weather here is also legendary, with plenty of high temperatures and sunshine year-round.

Recent California Population Trends

In recent years, news outlets have reported that more and more California residents are moving out to other states. KSBW News reported that from 2007 to 2016, around one million decided to relocate. The U.S. Census Bureau claimed that in 2018, around 691,000 moves out, and around 501,000 moved in. The main reason is the high cost of living, especially skyrocketing home costs. One resident who was interviewed said that the median home price in Santa Cruz was $827,000; she was planning a move to upstate New York’s Niagara County, where median home prices were in the neighborhood of $150 to $155K.

Many citing high taxes and an unfriendly attitude towards businesses from the government.

The Smallest Population: Wyoming 567,025

As the tenth-largest state in square miles, Wyoming has the smallest population at just 567,025. In fact, it has been called “a small town with a very long main street.” It is landlocked, with a landscape that is not as livable as other states. It has sparse rainfall, wide valleys and plans, flat, treeless basins, and rugged, high terrains. There are many large ranches here, which makes the towns and cities far apart.

On top of this, close to half of Wyoming’s land is used for grazing and not much else.  The U.S. Government owns a lot of the state’s land, meaning that they control its mining, logging, and grazing.

Size-Wise

The states come in all different sizes and shapes. Alaska is called “The Last Frontier,” and with good reason: Though it is the largest, almost half of it is also unpopulated. It ranks 49th on the list, with 734,002 residents.

The 50 US States Ranked By Population

RankStatePopulation
1California39,937,489
2Texas29,472,295
3Florida21,992,985
4New York19,440,469
5Pennsylvania12,820,878
6Illinois12,659,682
7Ohio11,747,694
8Georgia10,736,059
9North Carolina10,611,862
10Michigan10,045,029
11New Jersey8,936,574
12Virginia8,626,207
13Washington7,797,095
14Arizona7,378,494
15Massachusetts6,976,597
16Tennessee6,897,576
17Indiana6,745,354
18Missouri6,169,270
19Maryland6,083,116
20Wisconsin5,851,754
21Colorado5,845,526
22Minnesota5,700,671
23South Carolina5,210,095
24Alabama4,908,621
25Louisiana4,645,184
26Kentucky4,499,692
27Oregon4,301,089
28Oklahoma3,954,821
29Connecticut3,563,077
30Utah3,282,115
31Iowa3,179,849
32Nevada3,139,658
33Arkansas3,038,999
34Puerto Rico3,032,165
35Mississippi2,989,260
36Kansas2,910,357
37New Mexico2,096,640
38Nebraska1,952,570
39Idaho1,826,156
40West Virginia1,778,070
41Hawaii1,412,687
42New Hampshire1,371,246
43Maine1,345,790
44Montana1,086,759
45Rhode Island1,056,161
46Delaware982,895
47South Dakota903,027
48North Dakota761,723
49Alaska734,002
50District of Columbia720,687
51Vermont628,061
52Wyoming567,025

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