Tuesday, March 10, 2015

63% of Americans Live in a City

Nearly two out of three Americans (63 percent) live in a city, according to the Census Bureau. Cities are defined by their legal corporate limits. They differ from metropolitan areas, which are defined by the Office of Management and Budget and consist of counties with urban populations of 50,000 or more. The nation has more cities (19,508) than metro areas (381).

Between 2010 and 2013, the population of the nation's cities grew 3.1 percent—greater than the 2.4 percent growth rate for the nation as a whole. City growth occurs not just because of population gains, however, but also because of annexation. Boundary changes between 2010 and 2013, for example, added nearly 32,000 people to the city of Kirkland, Washington. City population also grows when new cities are created. Sixteen new cities were incorporated between 2010 and 2013, including James Island, South Carolina, and Jurupa Valley, California.

The most populous city in the United States is New York, with 8.4 million people in the city's 303 square miles of land. All those people in such a small geographic area make New York the most densely populated city in the United States, with 27,781 people per square mile. Close to the other extreme is Sitka, Alaska, which has more land area than any other city—2,870 square miles. Because only 9,020 people live there, however, Sitka's density is just 3.1 people per square mile. 

Source: Census Bureau, Population Trends in Incorporated Places: 2000 to 2013

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