Iowa’s Population Rank Over the Last 100 Years

Iowa has been eclipsed in population by 15 states since its #15 ranking after the 1910 Census (and passed none)

The U.S. Census Bureau’s newly-released population data finds Iowa remaining the 30th most populous state in the nation – the same ranking it achieved after both the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.

Iowa’s stable population rank – and record high population eclipsing three million this year – belies what has been a long, steady decline in relative population rank over the last century.

Beginning in 1910, when the U.S. House settled at 435 seats, Iowa had the 15th largest population in the United States and 11 U.S. House seats.

Iowa was tied for 12th in the nation for the largest U.S. House delegation at that time, but has fallen to tied for 30th after the 2010 Census, shrinking from 11 to 4 seats during this 100-year span.

This 63.6 percent decline in House seats is the third largest in the nation behind only the 66.7 percent decline in representation experienced by North and South Dakota (who each saw their delegations reduced from three seats to one seat over the past century).

No other state has endured more than a 50 percent decline in its number of U.S. House seats during the past 100 years.

Despite adding over 800,000 residents since 1910, from 2,224,771 to 3,046,355 in 2010, Iowa has not eclipsed a single state in population after any of the 10 subsequent censuses.

In 1920, Iowa dropped one spot to #16 in the nation for population after North Carolina passed up the Hawkeye State.

Iowa’s population then fell below that of three states in 1930 – Alabama, Minnesota, and Tennessee – dropping to #19 in the nation overall.

Over the next six census periods 11 more states would climb past Iowa in population:

· Virginia in 1940
· Florida and Louisiana in 1950
· Maryland and Washington in 1960
· Connecticut in 1970
· South Carolina and Oklahoma in 1980
· Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon in 1990

After the 2020 Census, Iowa could very well be passed up by a few other states.

Arkansas, currently #32 in population, reduced its population deficit vis-à-vis Iowa from 252,924 residents in 2000 to 130,437 in 2010.

Utah, currently #34 in population, reduced its population deficit by more than half from 693,155 residents in 2000 to just 282,470 today.

Iowa appears to have staved off its closest challenger, Mississippi, which has been ranked just behind Iowa in population for each of the last three censuses at #31.

In 1990, Mississippi was 203,539 residents behind Iowa in population, cutting that deficit to just 81,666 residents after the 2000 Census.

However, the Magnolia State gained just 2,608 residents on Iowa over the last decade, and is still trailing by 79,058 residents.

Kansas, the nation’s 33rd most populous state, gained 44,669 residents on the Hawkeye State over the last ten years, cutting its 237,906 population deficit between the two states to 193,237.

Iowa Population and U.S. House Seats Rank by Census Period

Census
Pop. Rank
Passed
Passed by
Seats rank
1910
15
12 (t)
1920
16
NC
12 (t)
1930
19
AL, MN, TN
15 (t)
1940
20
VA
20 (t)
1950
22
FL, LA
19 (t)
1960
24
MD, WA
22 (t)
1970
25
CT
24 (t)
1980
27
OK, SC
24 (t)
1990
30
AZ, CO, OR
29 (t)
2000
30
27 (t)
2010
30
30 (t)

Table compiled by Smart Politics with population data from U.S. Census Bureau.

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