- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 18, 2002

In 1900, most of the U.S. population consisted of men, under age 23, who mostly rented homes outside the metropolitan areas. Nearly half of them lived with five or more persons.

Today, most of the population is female, at least age 35, who own homes mostly in cities or suburbs. Most live alone or with one or two other persons.

These are some of the broad-scale changes highlighted in a report released yesterday by the Census Bureau. The report, "Demographic Trends in the 20th Century," analyzed data collected in 11 censuses stretching from 1900 to 2000.

"The most interesting finding is that the general trend was not always moving in the same direction every decade," said Frank Hobbs, a demographic statistician who co-authored the report.

The U.S. population more than tripled during the 20th century, from 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. The population grew increasingly metropolitan each decade, from 28 percent in 1910 to 80 percent in 2000.

One in four Americans were a race other than white in 2000, compared with one in eight in 1900.

The black population increased steadily from 8.8 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000 and the Hispanic population more than doubled between 1980 and 2000, from 14.6 million to 35.3 million in 2000.

New Mexico had the highest proportion of Hispanics of any state in 1980, 1990 and 2000. By 2000, 42 percent of New Mexico's population was Hispanic, the report showed.

Overall, population declined in more states in the 1930s than during any other decade. Nearly all state population declines occurred in the Great Plains, extending north from Oklahoma to Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

New York, Vermont and Wyoming were the only states outside of the South and Midwest to lose people between 1940 and 1970. New York whose population of 7.3 million in 1900 exceeded that of any other state suffered the biggest decline between 1970 and 1980, when it lost 678,895 persons. In 2000, California had the largest population, with 33.9 million people.

The District's population declined the most often during the century, losing people in five censuses since the 1950s, the report shows.

Meanwhile, the population in the West grew faster than the population in each of the other three regions of the country in each decade.

Florida's population rank rose more than any other state, catapulting it from 33rd in 1900 to fourth in 2000. Iowa's ranking plummeted the furthest, from 10th in 1900 to 30th in 2000.

The District, which ranked 41st in 1900, fell to 50th in 2000. Maryland, which ranked 26th in 1900, rose to 19th, while Virginia, which ranked 17th in 1900, rose to 12th.

The country's population also has gotten older during the last century.

Children younger than 5 represented the largest five-year age group in 1900 and in 1950. But, in 2000, the largest groups were 35 to 39 and 40 to 44, a large segment of the baby-boom generation, the report showed.

The country's sex composition shifted from a majority-male population to a majority-female population in the 1950s.

And the composition of the common household changed as well.

Between 1950 and 2000, married-couple households declined from more than three-fourths of all households to just more than one-half.

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