U.S. Population Throughout History

Fertility Rate, Aging Population, and Immigration

Crowd at the Palio horse race in Siena.
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The first decennial census in the United States in 1790 showed a population of just under four million people. Today, the U.S. population is estimated at more than 320 million. The 2010 census showed that the United States had a .77 percent increase in population. In 2009, there was an almost one percent increase in the birth rate, which was seen as a post-recession baby boom. According to the Census, "The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 17 seconds." While that figure may sound high, the U.S. population is actually growing at a slower rate than many other nations.

U.S. Fertility Rate

The United States runs below replacement level (2.1 births per woman) in fertility rate, at a historic low with an estimated 1.76 in 2017. Some of the drop in fertility rate is due to a drop in teen births over the previous decade and a drop in unintended pregnancies. 

The lower birthrate actually signifies that there are increased opportunities for women in the United States compared to high-fertility rate countries. Women who put off motherhood have fewer children but generally have them on better economic footing. 

A low birthrate is also a sign of an established economy. The U.S. rate is actually high among the richest nations in the world, which are all grappling with an aging population overall.

Aging Population

A lower birthrate and an increasing life expectancy contributes to the fact that the U.S. population is aging overall. One problem associated with an increasingly aging population includes fewer people in the workforce.

Countries who are aging and not having a net migration in will see population declines. That has the potential to put a strain on social services and health care, as there are fewer people to pay taxes to support government programs for the elderly. There are also fewer caregivers for them.

Immigration = Population Rise

Fortunately, the United States attracts a large number of immigrants who come here to work.

Also, people who come here searching for a better life do so in the ages when they typically have young children, thus keeping the country's population growing. Immigrants fill in the gaps in the workforce created by the aging population and the drop in fertility rate. But it's not a new trend. Since 1965 the population increase of the United States has been because of immigrants and their descendants, with that trend expected to continue for the next 50 years, Pew Research reported. Immigrants accounted for about 14 percent of the total U.S. population in 2015.  

U.S. Census Figures

Here you will find a list of the U.S. population every 10 years from the first official census in 1790 to the most recent in 2010, including a recent population estimate. The population is expected to hit 355 million by 2030, 373 million by 2040, and 388 million by 2050.  

1790: 3,929,214
1800: 5,308,483
1810: 7,239,881
1820: 9,638,453
1830: 12,866,020
1840: 17,069,453
1850: 23,191,876
1860: 31,443,321
1870: 38,558,371
1880: 50,189,209
1890: 62,979,766
1900: 76,212,168
1910: 92,228,496
1920: 106,021,537
1930: 123,202,624
1940: 132,164,569
1950: 151,325,798
1960: 179,323,175
1970: 203,302,031
1980: 226,542,199
1990: 248,709,873
2000: 281,421,906
2010: 307,745,538
2017: 323,148,586