Current Population of the United States

Crowded streets of NYC to represent growing popualtion
Mitchell Funk / Getty Images

The current U.S. population is more than 327 million people (as of early 2018). The United States has the world's third largest population, following China and ​India.

As the world's population is approximately 7.5 billion (2017 figures), the current U.S. population represents a mere 4 percent of the world's population. That means that not quite one in every 25 people on the planet is a resident of the United States of America.

How the Population Has Changed and Is Projected to Grow

In 1790, the year of the first census of the U.S. population, there were 3,929,214 Americans. By 1900, the number had jumped to 75,994,575. In 1920 the census counted more than 100 million people (105,710,620). Another 100 million people were added to the United States in just 50 years when the 200-million barrier was reached in 1970. The 300 million mark was surpassed in 2006.

The U.S. Census Bureau expects the U.S. population to grow to reach these estimates over the next few decades, averaging about 2.1 million more people per year:

  • 2020: 334.5 million
  • 2030: 359.4 million
  • 2040: 380.2 million
  • 2050: 398.3 million
  • 2060: 416.8 million

The Population Reference Bureau succinctly summarized the state of the growing U.S. population in 2006: "Each 100 million has been added more quickly than the last. It took the United States more than 100 years to reach its first 100 million in 1915.

After another 52 years, it reached 200 million in 1967. Less than 40 years later, it is set to hit the 300-million mark." That report suggested that the United States would reach 400 million in 2043, but in 2015 that year was revised to be in 2051. The figure is based on a slowdown in the immigration rate and the fertility rate.

Immigration Makes Up for Low Fertility 

The United States' total fertility rate is 1.89, which means that, on average, each woman gives birth to 1.89 children throughout her life. The UN Population Division projects the rate to be relatively stable, from 1.89 to 1.91 projected to 2060, but it still isn't population replacement. A country would need a fertility rate of 2.1 to have a stable, no-growth population overall.

Overall the U.S. population is growing at 0.77 percent a year as of December 2016, and immigration plays a huge part in that. Immigrants to the United States are often young adults (looking for a better life for their future and their family's), and the fertility rate of that population (foreign-born mothers) is higher than for native-born women and projected to remain so. That aspect accounts for that slice of the population growing to be a larger share of the nation's population overall, reaching 19 percent by 2060, as compared with 13 percent in 2014. By 2044 more than half of the people will belong to a minority group (anything other than only non-Hispanic white). In addition to immigration, longer life expectancy also comes into play with the growing population numbers, and the influx of young immigrants will help the United States support its aging native-born population.​

Shortly before 2050, the current No. 4 nation, Nigeria, is expected to surpass the United States to become the world's third-largest nation, as its population is growing quickly. India is expected to be the most populous in the world, growing past China.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "Current Population of the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2018, thoughtco.com/current-usa-population-1435269. Rosenberg, Matt. (2018, February 20). Current Population of the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/current-usa-population-1435269 Rosenberg, Matt. "Current Population of the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/current-usa-population-1435269 (accessed February 24, 2018).