List of the Most Populous States in the United States of America

The United States secures the third position in the list of most populous countries in the world. Nearly 17.3% of the total world population lives in the US. The country is home to over 330 million people. Out of all the 50 states and the District of Columbia, California is the most populous state in the US.  The state has held the top position for over five decades now!

In this article, we have prepared an updated list of the top five most populous US states in descending order. The present list is based on the Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and the District of Columbia: 1 April 2010, to 1 July 2020 (NST-EST2020). Detailed information in this regard can also be accessed from the official website of the United States Census Bureau.

List of Most Populous States in the United States

1. California

At the beginning of the 20th century, the population in California state was around 2 million. It was the latter half of the century which witnessed a tremendous increase in the population growth of California. By the middle of the 20th century, California was home to 10 million people.

Interestingly, no race or ethnic group represents a majority in California. This is the reason why California is often referred to as a majority-minority state. At present, the overall population of California is estimated to be around 39.5 million! That’s around 11.82% of the total US population.

The population of California is larger than over a hundred fifty nations of the world. If California would have been an independent nation, it would have bagged the 34th position in the world’s most populous country ranking. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

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2. Texas

Texas, as the second most populous state in the US, is far behind California with around 29.36 million people. The Lone Star State accounts for around 8.82% of the total US population. A sharp rise has been observed in the population growth rate of the state over the last decade. There has been a significant increase in all the subcategories of population growth in Texas.  A large percentage of the population in Texas resides in some of the major cities of the state including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.

3. Florida

In the latest Annual Estimates, Florida’s ranking has jumped up by one position. Florida, which originally ranked fourth in the list, is presently the third most populous state in the US.  The state has a population of around 21.73 million people and it shares 6.53% of the total US Population. Florida is also known for attracting Latin American migrants in huge numbers.

4. New York

New York was the most populous state in the US at the beginning of the 20th century. It was only in the latter half of the century around the 1960s that the spot was lost to California. New York eventually slipped in its ranking over the decades.  Particularly in the last decade, it has undergone an extremely small reduction of 0.2% in its total population. New York state’s present population is 19.33 million as against a population of 19.37 million people in 2020. In fourth place, the total population of the New York state constitutes 5.81% of the total US population.  New York, the most populous city in the United States, contributes significantly to the overall population of New York state.

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5. Pennsylvania

The population of Pennsylvania state has hardly undergone any change in the last decade. It has maintained its total population and recorded a marginal increase of 0.6%. The present population of Pennsylvania is 12.78 million. Pennsylvania, thus, stands in fifth place in this list. As per the latest data, the total population of Pennsylvania is 3.84% of the total population of the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will be answering some of the frequently asked questions related to the most populous states in the US.

Q1. When did California become the most populous state in the US?

In the year 1964, California became the most populous state in the United States with a population of 18,084,000 people. It is pertinent to mention here that as of 1 July 1964, the civilian population of New York was still slightly ahead of California. However, the overall population of California surpassed that of New York making California the most populous state in the US.

Q2.  Is the American Community Survey the same as the census?

No. Both these surveys are entirely different from one another and are conducted with different objectives. American Community Survey provides yearly data and information with respect to the social and economic requirements of the communities in the US. On the other hand, the census is the official population count of the US which is conducted every ten years.