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How America has changed since the first census in 1790

  • 1990: LA overtakes Chicago as the second-largest city

    - U.S. resident population: 248,709,873
    - Number of official states: 50
    - Median age of population: 32.8
    - Immigrants obtaining legal resident status: 1,535,872
    - Biggest cities: New York, NY (Population: 7,322,564), Los Angeles, CA (3,485,398), Chicago, IL (2,783,726)

    This census used two questionnaires, a “short form” and a “long form”: The short form asked 13 questions to 100% of the population, while the long form asked 45 questions to 20% of the population. The Census Bureau continued to increase public awareness of the census this year, specifically publicizing to Black Americans by recruiting Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, Alfre Woodard, and Debbye Turner as spokespeople. In the resulting population counts, Los Angeles was the second-largest city in America at 3.5 million people—pushing Chicago out of this top spot for the first time since 1890.

  • 2000: Census takes to the internet

    - U.S. resident population: 281,421,906
    - Number of official states: 50
    - Median age of population: 35.3
    - Immigrants obtaining legal resident status: 841,002
    - Biggest cities: New York, NY (Population: 8,008,278), Los Angeles, CA (3,694,820), Chicago, IL (2,896,016)

    Respondents to the 2000 census were able to use the Internet to submit their answers to the short form, which was the shortest census questionnaire since 1820 at only seven questions. Seventy thousand households took this option. The internet was also the main medium for dissembling 2000 census data: Tables could be purchased on CD-ROM and DVD or viewed through an online database called the American FactFinder, which is still the name of the census database today.

  • 2010: Same-sex married couples are included

    - U.S. resident population: 308,745,538
    - Number of official states: 50
    - Median age of population: 37.2
    - Immigrants obtaining legal resident status: 1,042,625
    - Biggest cities: New York, NY (Population: 8,175,133), Los Angeles, CA (3,792,621), Chicago, IL (2,695,598)

    LGBTQ+ respondents to the 2010 census could mark their spouses as “husband or wife” for the first time, while an “unmarried partner” option was still available for same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike. The 2010 census was publicized with the most extensive outreach campaign yet, including a road tour, a national “Teach Census Week,” and advertisements in 28 languages.

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