Kentucky’s population up slightly especially in urban areas, 2020 census shows

Closeup of United States Census 2020 form informational copy and a ballpoint pen on wooden background.

Kentucky’s population grew 3.8 percent to approximately 4.5 million people in the last decade, with most growth coming in urban areas, according to new data from the US Census Bureau.

Compared to surrounding states, Kentucky is in the middle of the pack in terms of its percentage growth, with Tennessee at 8.9 percent, Virginia at 7.9 percent, and Indiana at 4.7 percent. Also recording increases were Missouri (2.8 percent) and Ohio (2.3 percent). Illinois’s population stayed close to the same, recording a -0.1 percent loss and West Virginia at -3.2 percent.

Kentucky’s growth came largely in areas surrounding Louisville and Lexington, as well as in Northern Kentucky and around Bowling Green. For example, while Jefferson County’s population increased just 5.7 percent, it’s border four Kentucky bordering counties all recorded double-digit increases: Oldham (12.1), Shelby (14.2), Spencer (14.2), and Bullitt (10.6).

Fayette County saw a 9 percent increase, with its six bordering counties all recording an increase, with Scott County boasting the largest increase of any Kentucky county at 21.2 percent.

Warren County, home to the city of Bowling Green, recorded an increase of 18.2 percent and Boone County in Northern Kentucky recorded an increase of 14.2 percent. Bell County, located in Southeast Kentucky on the Virginia border, had the largest decrease at 16 percent. Several other rural counties in eastern and western parts of the state experienced population decreases.

In terms of racial demographics, the state’s makeup changed slightly, with the white population decreasing from 87.8 percent in 2010 to 82.4 percent in 2020. The state’s black population increased just 0.2 percent from 7.8 in 2010 to eight percent in 2020, but the multi-racial population grew to 5.4 percent, up from 1.7 percent in 2010.

The census results will provide legislators with valuable insight when they begin the process of redistricting 138 state house and senate districts, which is expected to begin in January 2022.

About the Author

Manager of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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