Population Research and Policy Review 21: 55–71, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Population growth in the 1990s: Patterns within the United
US Census Bureau, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract. Census 2000 counted 281.4 million people in the United States, up 13.2 percent
from the 1990 Census population of 248.7 million and the highest percent increase for the
nation since the 1960s. Population growth in the 1990s was not only higher than in recent
decades, it was also more geographically widespread, with more states, counties, and cities
experiencing population gains. This paper examines population growth during the 1990s for a
variety of geographic levels, including regions, divisions, states, metropolitan areas, counties
and large cities. It then compares growth rates for the 1990s with earlier decades to provide a
historical context to present-day trends in population growth and decline. Finally, it discusses
how differential population growth in recent decades has resulted in a new form of population
distribution in the US.
Keywords: Population Growth, Census 2000
The ﬁrst results from Census 2000 show a population of 281.4 million in the
United States. This was an increase of 32.7 million from the 1990 ﬁgure of
248.7 million, and the largest census-to-census increase in US history.
percentage increase of 13.2 percent was the highest census-to-census gain
since the increase of 18.4 percent for the 1950s. None of the 4 census regions
experienced growth at or near this rate, however. Two regions, the Midwest
and Northeast, grew at slower rates (8 and 6 percent respectively), while the
West and South grew at faster rates (20 and 17 percent respectively).
Population growth for the 1990s wasn’t only larger than in recent decades,
it was also more widespread, with the 1990s being the ﬁrst decade in the
20th Century in which every state had a population gain. These increases
ranged from a slight 3,400 numeric gain and 0.5 percent gain in North Dakota
to California’s numeric increase of 4.1 million and Nevada’s gain of 66.3
This paper, using results from Census 2000, examines patterns of popu-
lation growth within the United States for the period 1990 to 2000. It begins
with a review of population growth patterns for the census divisions, states