Ohio’s Population Rank Over the Last 100 Years

Five decades of sluggish growth see the Buckeye State shed one third of its U.S. House delegation since 1960

This is Smart Politics’ fourth in a series of reports on population trends among the states over the past century. Previous reports focused on Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

As one of two states set to lose two U.S. House seats when the 113th Congress convenes in 2013 (along with New York), Ohio has now endured stagnant population growth for half a century and counting.

While current population trends suggest the Buckeye State will likely remain the 7th most populous state in the nation after the 2020 Census – a position it has held since 1990 – it appears the southern states of Georgia and North Carolina will eclipse it by 2030.

Ohio’s population has grown an average of 9.5 percent each decade over the last 100 years – though just an average of 3.6 percent since 1960 compared to 15.5 percent from 1910 through the 1950s.

As a result, Ohio’s 33.3 percent decline in U.S. House seats from its peak of 24 in 1963 to just 16 in 2013 ties it with Pennsylvania for the seventh largest decline in the nation – behind the 50 percent drop experienced by Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota (from two seats to one), the 42.9 percent drop for Iowa (seven to four seats), the 40 percent drop by West Virginia (five to three seats), and the 34.1 percent drop in New York (from 41 to 27 seats).

For 120 years, from 1820 through 1940, Ohio held the third (1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880) or fourth (1820, 1830, 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940) largest U.S. House delegation in the nation.

The state’s population was the fourth largest through the 1940 Census – nipping California by a mere 225 residents that year.

Over the next 50 years, the Buckeye State was passed in population in census years by California in 1950, Texas in 1970, and Florida in 1990.

Ohio Population and U.S. House Seat Rank by Census Period

Census
Pop. Rank
Passed
Passed by
Seats rank
1910
4
4
1920
4
4
1930
4
4
1940
4
4 (t)
1950
5
CA
5
1960
5
4 (t)
1970
6
TX
6
1980
6
6
1990
7
FL
7
2000
7
7
2010
7
7

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

During the past century, Ohio has made gains on only one state ranking ahead of it in population – Pennsylvania.

The Keystone State had a 2.89 million-population advantage over Ohio in 1910 – increasing to 2.98 million in 1930. By 2000, Ohio had reduced that deficit to 927,914.

However, Ohio’s paltry 1.6 percent growth in population from 2001-2010 saw Pennsylvania increase its advantage to 1.16 million through April of last year.

The 1.6 percent growth for Ohio was the second lowest among the twelve Midwestern states, behind South Dakota (7.9 percent), Minnesota (7.8 percent), Missouri (7.0 percent), Nebraska (6.7 percent), Indiana (6.6 percent), Kansas (6.1 percent), Wisconsin (6.0 percent), North Dakota (4.7 percent), Iowa (4.1 percent), and Illinois (3.3 percent).

Only its fellow Midwestern state of Michigan (-0.6 percent), Rhode Island (0.4 percent), and Louisiana (1.4 percent) had slower rates of growth over the last 10 years.

Because Ohio’s population growth has not kept pace with that of the nation overall – particularly since 1960 – Ohio has seen its share of the nation’s population drop from 5.41 percent in 1960, to 5.24 percent in 1970, 4.77 percent in 1980, 4.36 percent in 1990, 4.03 percent in 2000, to just 3.74 percent in 2010.

Ohio reached a peak of 5.43 percent after the 1920 Census.

Ohio Percentage of U.S. Population and Population Growth

Census
% of U.S.
% Growth
1910
5.17
1920
5.43
20.8
1930
5.39
15.4
1940
5.23
3.9
1950
5.25
15.0
1960
5.41
22.1
1970
5.24
9.7
1980
4.77
1.4
1990
4.36
0.5
2000
4.03
4.7
2010
3.74
1.6

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

At current population rates, Ohio is still slated to be the seventh most populous state after the 2020 Census, with #8 Michigan at 1.65 million residents behind and stagnating.

However, #9 Georgia and #10 North Carolina will likely pass Ohio in total population by the 2030 Census.

Georgia (currently trailing by 1.84 million residents) gained 1.31 million residents on Ohio during the last 10 years while North Carolina (trailing by 2.00 million) gained 1.30 million residents.

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