WA-List » People, people, people

People, people, people

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Population

People keep coming.  There have been inhabitants of what we now call Washington for at least 10,000 years, but we’ve had a recorded count for only the last 150 years.  Since then?  They just keep coming.

The first population boom hit in the 1840s and 1850s when settlements in Tumwater, Olympia, and Steilacoom set up shop and Washington became a territory separate from Oregon. Thirty years later, statehood and the Alaska Gold Rush made Seattle a business juggernaut.  There was another jump during the wartime 1940s, affecting military communities and the Tri-Cities.  Smaller booms in Spokane, Hoquiam, and Vancouver nudged the numbers at different times, too. But even without those giant lurches in the demographics, Washington has grown steadily throughout its history — always more than 10% per decade.  The Depression 1930s was the state’s quietest decade, with both business and family economics slowing the population to 11% growth.

The most recent census counted 6.7 million residents in the state, placing us 13th in the list of most populous states.  That’s up 2 notches from the 2000 census.  And that people count means we’ve doubled in the last 40 years (since 1970), and gone up 10 times since the early 1900s. For every 1 Washingtonian in the 1870s, there are about 100 of us now.

WASHINGTON STATE POPULATION IN CENSUS YEARS, 1850-2010

Year Population % change over
previous decade
1860  11,594  865.4%
1870  23,955  106.6%
1880  75,116  213.6%
1890  357,232  375.6%
1900  518,103  45.0%
1910  1,141,990  120.4%
1920  1,356,621  18.8%
1930  1,563,396  15.2%
1940  1,736,191  11.1%
1950  2,378,963  37.0%
1960  2,853,214  19.9%
1970  3,409,169  19.5%
1980  4,132,156  21.2%
1990  4,866,692  17.8%
2000  5,894,121  21.1%
2010  6,724,540  14.1%

SOURCE: US Census

PHOTO © Steve Campion

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