Top 10 Most Populous States of the USA

The United States is the third most populous country in the world with a 2022 population estimate of 332,403,650. China and India each have far greater populations that exceed one billion, and Indonesia is the next most populous country after the US.

Most of the population in the USA lives near the coast, and the country has a relatively low population density of about 36 people per square kilometer (94 per square mile). Some states in the country are far more populated than others, and we’ll take a look at the states with the highest populations in this post.

USA Interactive Population Map

Below are the top 10 Most Populous States in the USA (2022):

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. New York
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Illinois
  7. Ohio
  8. Georgia
  9. North Carolina
  10. Michigan

See the full list with population numbers.

Most Populous States of the US


With more than 10 million people separating it from second place, California is the most populous state in the USA and has held this distinction since 1962. It’s also the 10th youngest state in the US, the third largest, and it accepts more refugees than any other state. We’ll take a closer look at refugee arrival by states in the US below.

Located in the Western United States, California owes its large population to high levels of immigration, which result from the state’s attractive weather, strong job market, high-quality universities, and access to the ocean as well as mountains.


Texas is the second most populous state in the USA, with a population of 29.9 million in 2022. It’s also the second-largest state in the country, just behind Alaska. It’s even larger than any European country.

Although the population of Texas is the second highest in the US, its population density doesn’t even rank in the top 25 states overall. Due to the state’s considerable size, it has a population density of 105.2 people per square mile.


The next most populous state in the US is Florida, coming in at number three. It’s got a population of about 22,085,563 and is tucked in the far southeastern corner of the contiguous United States.

Similar to California, Florida is known for consistently sunny weather and beautiful beaches. These factors make the state a popular retirement spot and also likely contribute to the high number of people living in the state permanently. Other features that make living in Florida attractive are comparatively lower taxes and more affordable housing prices.

Florida also experiences extreme weather such as hurricanes from time to time, and some residents consider the state to be overcrowded.

New York

A bustling Times Square with illuminated billboards and advertisements, heavy traffic with yellow taxis, and crowded sidewalks with pedestrians.
New York City

New York is one of the most internationally recognizable states in the US, and it’s the fourth most populous. The state is home to the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of freedom and democracy, and it has the third-highest number of foreign-born residents of any state in the country.

While it isn’t the most populous state in the nation, New York City is the most populous US city by a long shot. Almost 9 million people live within the city. The next most populous city in the country is Los Angeles, whose population of nearly 4 million seems small in comparison.

The state of New York has a population of 20,365,879, and more than 18 million people live in the New York City Metropolitan Area, including major cities in New Jersey and Connecticut. It’s one of the most populous urban areas in the world.


The fifth most populous state in the US is Pennsylvania. It’s located in the Northeastern United States and shares borders with five other states. Of the 13,062,764 people living in Pennsylvania, the city with the greatest population is Philadelphia.

Typical of other states in the region, Pennsylvania is a relatively small state by total area and has a high population density. It has the 9th highest population density out of all US states.

Pennsylvania’s capital city is Harrisburg, and it was one of the original 13 states in the country. It is where the Declaration of Independence was signed.


Its population of 12,808,884 makes Illinois the sixth most populous state in the US. The largest city in Illinois is Chicago, which has an estimated 2022 population of 2.74 million. Its population is far greater than any others in the state, and most of the state’s residents live in the northeast corner of the state near Chicago.


With approximately one million fewer people than Illinois, Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the US with a population of 11,852,036. Ohio is located east of Indiana and west of Pennsylvania, bordering Lake Eerie to the north. The city with the highest population in Ohio is also the state’s capital, Columbus.

Ohio has had a slow population growth rate over the past decade, but it’s also the 10th most densely populated state in the country.


With a population of just under 11 million, Georgia is the eighth most populous state in the US. It was one of the thirteen original states to form the USA, and is the 24th-largest state in the country. Atlanta is the capital and largest city in the state, and the Atlanta metropolitan area accounts for more than half of Georgia’s population.

About 57% of Georgia’s population is White, 32% is Black or African American, and 4% is Asian.

North Carolina

North Carolina is the ninth most populated state in the US and the 15th most densely populated. The state has a long history of being a mostly rural part of the United States, but it is becoming more urban. The majority of the population today lives in urban or suburban areas, and the city with the highest population is Charlotte, where over 800,000 people live.


Rounding out the top ten states is Michigan with its population of 10,116,069. The state is best known for the Great Lakes that surround it as well as its largest city, Detroit, which is well-known for its automotive history. The capital city of Michigan is Lansing.

Michigan has one of the slowest growing populations in the United States. The decline in the automotive industry is considered responsible for the slow growth in the population, as there are fewer job opportunities in the state.

In the below list, you can see all the states in the US and their estimated populations in 2022:

New York20,365,879
North Carolina10,620,168
New Jersey9,388,414
South Carolina5,217,037
New Mexico2,129,190
West Virginia1,781,860
New Hampshire1,389,741
Rhode Island1,106,341
South Dakota901,165
North Dakota800,394

US Population Growth

In the past several years, the United States has seen a gradual decline in population growth rate. In 2010, the country had a growth rate of 0.83%, and in 2020 the percentage was just 0.35%.

A bar graph shows US population growth from 2010-2020, with each bar indicating the yearly percentage increase.
US population growth rate from 2010 to 2020

One reason for the significantly reduced growth rate in 2020 was the COVID-19 pandemic. Population growth rates are largely determined by the relationship between births and deaths in a country. When there are many more births than deaths, the growth rate is higher. Since there was a substantial increase in deaths due to the pandemic, the growth rate was lower.

Refugee Arrivals by US State

The USA has a long history of receiving high numbers of refugees each year. It also offers support to asylum seekers who are looking for protection in US ports.

Recently, the country had been helping tens of thousands of refugees resettle in the country. During the administration of President Obama, the ceiling for how many refugees could be welcomed in the country increased from 85,000 to 110,000 in 2016. The year before this, the US provided protection to 26,124 asylum seekers.

A girl in a pink scarf and necklace carries a child on her back in a crowded place.
Iraqi refugee children in Damascus, Syria

The number of refugees accepted in the US dropped dramatically during the Trump administration, which reduced the annual ceiling from 30,000 to 15,000. This and the reduced global travel during the pandemic made 2020 a year in which very few refugees resettled in the US.

The current Biden administration has made it a goal to increase the maximum number of refugees allowed in the country. In 2021, 13,700 refugees resettled in the United States. For 2022, the President has set a refugee admissions goal of 125,000.

As of June 2022, the US has accepted around 15,100 refugees from the following regions:

A color-coded pie chart displaying US refugee arrivals by region as of June 2022, with percentages for each region.

From October to June 2022, the regions with the highest immigration numbers in the US are Africa with 6,124 refugees and the Near East/South Asia with 4,978. Refugees from Latin America/Caribbean, Europe, and East Asia total between 1,000 and 1,500 for each region.

Top 3 Refugee Arrival States

Some states in the US take in far greater numbers of refugees than others. In fact, ten states often take in more than half of the total number of refugees that enter the country in a year. Let’s take a look at the states that have taken in the most refugees from October to June 2022.

1. California

In nine months, California has accepted 1,369 refugees. It welcomed the most refugees during May, when 248 entered the state. The country most represented by refugee arrivals in California during this period is Syria, from which 399 refugees arrived. The countries with the next highest numbers of arrivals in California are listed below:

  • Ukraine: 202
  • Afghanistan: 158
  • Guatemala: 148
  • El Salvador: 84

2. Texas

The state with the second-highest number of refugee arrivals from October to June 2022 is Texas, which welcomed 1,276 refugees. These refugees came from a total of 28 different countries. The country with the highest number of arrivals into Texas during this period was the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 381 people. The next four countries with the most arrivals are listed below:

  • Syria: 237
  • Burma: 114
  • Afghanistan: 105
  • Sudan: 101

3. New York

New York accepted 951 refugees from October to June 2022, which makes it the state with the third highest number of arrivals during that period. The refugees that entered New York came from 22 different countries, and the country with the most arrivals was Syria with 252. The next countries to round out the top five arrivals in New York are listed below:

  • Democratice Republic of Congo: 196
  • Burma: 164
  • Sudan: 72
  • Ukraine: 54


According to the US homeland security, the total number of persons obtaining lawful permanent resident status in 2020 was 707,362. This was a significant decrease from the 1.03 million that obtained permanent residency in 2019.

In addition to the refugee immigrant population, there are many who immigrate to the Untied States with a work visa. California, Texas, Florida, and New York are amongst the states with the highest immigration concentrations.

It’s also common for a large portion of the immigrants to arrive in any given year to have a relative already living in the US.

In 2020, 13.5% of the population in the United States was born in another country. The states with the highest foreign-born populations in the US in 2020 were California, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Nevada. As the state with the highest foreign-born population, 26.6% of California’s residents were foreign-born.

A 2020 bar graph shows the percentage of US foreign-born population by state, with states and percentages represented by blue and white bars.
Percentage of foreign-born population in each US state

Birth Rate By State 2022

Although immigration does play a significant role in population growth in any given state, the greatest impact on population actually comes from the relationship between birth and death rates. States with much higher birth rates than death rates experience greater growth than those that don’t.

Here are the top 10 states with the highest birth rates in the US (births per 1,000 people):

  1. Utah 14.9
  2. North Dakota 14.0
  3. Alaska 13.7
  4. South Dakota 13.5
  5. Texas 13.2
  6. Nebraska 13.2
  7. District of Columbia 13.1
  8. Louisiana 12.8
  9. Oklahoma 12.6
  10. Kansas 12.5
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