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Missouri's Population Trends Over the Last 100 Years

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The Show Me State has dropped from the 7th to the 18th most populous state in the nation since 1910, losing half of its U.S. House seats along the way

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

Although Missouri held out hope it would save its 9th Congressional District seat when new Census and reapportionment numbers were released a few months ago, the end result was an all too familiar verdict handed down over the past century as Missouri has struggled to keep pace with the nation's growing population.

Over the last 100 years, Missouri has fallen from the 7th most populous state in the nation to its current standing of just 18th.

During that span Missouri has seen its U.S. House delegation cut in half, from a high of 16 seats after the 1910 Census to its forthcoming eight-member delegation when the 113th Congress convenes in 2013.

While current population trends suggest Missouri will just barely hold onto its #18 slot after the 2020 Census - with Maryland nipping at its heels - it has seen 11 states from coast-to-coast eclipse it in population over the last century, without passing a single state:

· In 1910, Missouri's population of 3.29 million residents was smaller than only six other states: New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Massachusetts.

· After the 1920 Census, it fell to 9th (passed by California and Michigan).

·In 1930, it dropped one spot to 10th (New Jersey).

· In 1950, Missouri fell to #11 (North Carolina).

· In 1960, it dropped to #13 (Florida, Indiana).

· In 1980, two more states passed Missouri dropping it to #15 (Georgia, Virginia).

· In 2000, it fell to #17 (Tennessee, Washington).

·In 2010, it dropped to #18 (Arizona).

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

Census
Pop. Rank
Passed by
# Seats
Seats rank
1910
7
(MA, TX)
16
6 (t)
1920
9
CA, MI
16
6 (t)
1930
10
NJ
13-
10
1940
10
---
13
10
1950
11
NC
11
11 (t)
1960
13
FL, IN
10
13 (t)
1970
13
---
10
13 (t)
1980
15
GA, VA
9
15 (t)
1990
15
---
9
15 (t)
2000
17
TN, WA
9
14 (t)
2010
18
AZ
8
18 (t)
Table compiled by Smart Politics from U.S. Census Bureau data.

Although Missouri has grown in population each decade since statehood, it has not done so at a rate to keep pace with the rest of the nation.

Overall, Missouri's population increased 81.2 percent from 1910 (3.29 million) to 2010 (5.98 million), compared to a 234.8 percent increase for the United States generally.

Missouri's 81 percent increase in population over the last century is the 11th smallest in the nation behind only North Dakota (16.6 percent), Iowa (36.9 percent), South Dakota (39.4 percent), West Virginia (51.7 percent), Nebraska (53.2 percent), Mississippi (65.1 percent), Pennsylvania (65.7 percent), Vermont (75.8 percent), and Maine (78.9 percent).

Moreover, Missouri is one of just two states in the nation to have not experienced a double-digit rate of increase in any of the 11 census periods from 1910 through 2010 (with Iowa being the other).

The largest population growth rates recorded by the Show Me State during this span were 9.3 percent from 1990 to 2000 and 9.2 percent from 1950 to 1960.

Missouri's population as a percentage of the U.S. overall fell from 3.57 percent in 1910 to 1.94 percent in 2010.

Missouri Percentage of U.S. Population and Population Growth

Census
% MO of U.S.
% MO Growth
% US Growth
1910
3.57
6.0
21.0
1920
3.21
3.4
15.0
1930
2.95
6.6
16.2
1940
2.86
4.3
7.3
1950
2.61
4.5
14.5
1960
2.41
9.2
18.5
1970
2.30
8.3
13.3
1980
2.17
5.1
11.5
1990
2.06
4.1
9.8
2000
1.99
9.3
13.2
2010
1.94
7.0
9.7
Table compiled by Smart Politics from U.S. Census Bureau data.

As a result of its slow rate of population growth vis-à-vis the rest of the country, Missouri has endured a 50 percent cut in the number of seats it holds in the U.S. House of Representatives since membership was set at 435 seats after the 1910 Census.

Missouri's eight seats in 2013 will comprise just 1.8 percent of the U.S. House in two years - its lowest mark since the 1830 Census, when Missouri's two seats comprised 0.8 percent of the nation's lower legislative chamber.

The 50 percent decline in seats is tied for the fourth largest in the country, behind only North and South Dakota (-66.7 percent) and Iowa (-63.6 percent).

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  • Interesting, thank you for this article.

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