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Wisconsin's Population Rank Over the Last 100 Years

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Badger State population has dropped from 13th to 20th in the nation over the past century

This is Smart Politics' third in a series of reports on population trends among the states over the past 100 years when the U.S. House of Representatives settled at 435 seats in 1910. Previous reports focused on Minnesota and Iowa.

The latest U.S. Census numbers from 2010 reveal that Wisconsin's population has been eclipsed by two states for the second consecutive decade.

Although its population has increased an average of 9.4 percent for each of the last 10 decades, the Badger State's population as a percentage of the United States overall has simultaneously dropped each decade as well.

Wisconsin now has the 20th largest population in the country - down from 18th after the 2000 Census - after Arizona and Maryland passed it by during the last decade.

Based on current population trends, however, it does not appear Wisconsin will be eclipsed by any state in 2020, and will hold onto its #20 position.

Both Minnesota (#21) and Colorado (#22) decreased Wisconsin's advantage over the past 10 years.

The Gopher State reduced its population deficit vis-à-vis Wisconsin by 61,135 residents between 2000 (-444,196) and 2010 (-383,061) while Colorado reduced its by 404,624 residents between 2000 (-1,062,414) and 2010 (-657,790).

The problem for Wisconsin - as it attempts to preserve as large a U.S. House delegation as possible in the coming decades - is that it is not poised to pass up any of the 19 states ranked ahead of it.

In short, Wisconsin's population rank is only going to drop as the decades roll on.

This continues a pattern for the Badger State dating back 100 years, when it had the 13th largest population in the country in 1910.

Since then Wisconsin has eclipsed only one state in population - Georgia, two times (in 1930 and 1960) - although the Peach State passed Wisconsin back two times as well, in 1950 and in 1970 for good.

Seven other states have also surpassed the Badger State in population over the past century: North Carolina (1930), Florida (1960), Virginia (1960), Tennessee (2000), Washington (2000), Arizona (2010), and Maryland (2010).

As a result, the size of Wisconsin's U.S. House delegation has dropped from a high of 11 seats after the 1900 and 1910 Censuses to its current size of eight.

After the 1910 Census, Wisconsin was tied for the 12th largest House delegation in the country, falling to tied for 18th after the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.

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

Census
Pop. Rank
Passed
Passed by
Seats rank
1910
13
---
---
12 (t)
1920
13
---
---
12 (t)
1930
13
GA
NC
13 (t)
1940
13
---
---
13 (t)
1950
14
---
GA
13 (t)
1960
15
GA
FL, VA
13 (t)
1970
16
---
GA
16
1980
16
---
---
15 (t)
1990
16
---
---
15 (t)
2000
18
---
TN, WA
18 (t)
2010
20
---
AZ, MD
18 (t)
Table compiled by Smart Politics from U.S. Census Bureau data.

Wisconsinites as a percentage of the nation's total population has also declined each decade, dropping from 2.53 percent in 1910 to 1.84 percent in 2010.

This decline has taken place despite an average population growth of 9.4 percent in Wisconsin each decade over the past century.

But the 6.0 percent growth experienced by the Badger State over the last 10 years is the second lowest over the past 100 years, higher than only the 4.0 percent growth during the 1980s.

The largest growth in Wisconsin - like much of the nation - took place during the 1950s, with a 15.1 percent increase in its state population. The second highest period was the 1910s, with 12.8 percent.

Wisconsin Percentage of U.S. Population and Population Growth

Census
% of U.S. Population
% WI Growth
1910
2.53
---
1920
2.48
12.8
1930
2.39
11.7
1940
2.37
6.8
1950
2.27
9.5
1960
2.20
15.1
1970
2.17
11.8
1980
2.08
6.5
1990
1.97
4.0
2000
1.91
9.6
2010
1.84
6.0
Table compiled by Smart Politics from U.S. Census Bureau data.

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