In 2020, about 82.66 percent of the total population in the United States lived in cities and urban areas. As the United States was one of the earliest nations to industrialize, it has had a comparatively high rate of urbanization over the past two centuries. The urban population became larger than the rural population during the 1910s, and by the middle of the century it is expected that almost 90 percent of the population will live in an urban setting.
Regional development of urbanization in the U.S.
The United States began to urbanize on a larger scale in the 1830s, as technological advancements reduced the labor demand in agriculture, and as European migration began to rise. One major difference between early urbanization in the U.S. and other industrializing economies, such as the UK or Germany, was population distribution. Throughout the 1800s, the Northeastern U.S. became the most industrious and urban region of the country, as this was the main point of arrival for migrants. Disparities in industrialization and urbanization was a key contributor to the Union's victory in the Civil War, not only due to population sizes, but also through production capabilities and transport infrastructure. The Northeast's population reached an urban majority in the 1870s, whereas this did not occur in the South until the 1950s. As more people moved westward in the late 1800s, not only did their population growth increase, but the share of the urban population also rose, with an urban majority established in both the West and Midwest regions in the 1910s. The West would eventually become the most urbanized region in the 1960s, and over 90 percent of the West's population is urbanized today.
New York City is the most populous city in the United States, with a population of 8.3 million, while California has the largest urban population of any state. California also has the highest urbanization rate, although the District of Columbia is considered 100 percent urban. Only four U.S. states still have a rural majority, these are Maine, Mississippi, Montana, and West Virginia.
Degree of urbanization in the United States from 1790 to 2020, and with projections until 2050
Figures for the rural population calculated by subtracting the urban population from 100. Figures from 1790-1960 have been obtained from Our World In Data, figures from 1970-2020 are from the World Bank, and estimates from 2020-2050 are from the United Nations.
Profit from the additional features of your individual account
Currently, you are using a shared account. To use individual functions (e.g., mark statistics as favourites, set
statistic alerts) please log in with your personal account.
If you are an admin, please authenticate by logging in again.
Access All Statistics. Starting from $468 / Year
Learn more about how Statista can support your business.
World Bank. (December 16, 2021). Degree of urbanization in the United States from 1790 to 2020, and with projections until 2050 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/269967/urbanization-in-the-united-states/
World Bank. "Degree of urbanization in the United States from 1790 to 2020, and with projections until 2050." Chart. December 16, 2021. Statista. Accessed June 29, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/269967/urbanization-in-the-united-states/
World Bank. (2021). Degree of urbanization in the United States from 1790 to 2020, and with projections until 2050. Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: June 29, 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/269967/urbanization-in-the-united-states/
World Bank. "Degree of Urbanization in The United States from 1790 to 2020, and with Projections until 2050." Statista, Statista Inc., 16 Dec 2021, https://www.statista.com/statistics/269967/urbanization-in-the-united-states/
World Bank, Degree of urbanization in the United States from 1790 to 2020, and with projections until 2050 Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/269967/urbanization-in-the-united-states/ (last visited June 29, 2022)