NARA expects to digitally release the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, which is 72 years after the official 1950 census day of April 1, 1950. This is the 42nd in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.

 

An article by Census Bureau staff members Paul C. Glick and Henry D. Sheldon - "The 1950 Census of Population:  Preview and Prospects" - that was published in Population Index, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan. 1951), pp. 3-15, provided a preview of the population data and publications series that the Bureau was compiling for distribution in 1952.  (Their article is available to read for free on the JSTOR.org website after first creating an account.)  They discussed some of the basic population changes that had occurred between the 1940 and 1950 censuses.  A few of these trends were: 

 

  • From 1940 to 1950, U.S. population increased by 19.1 million persons to 150,697,361, which was the largest decadal numerical increase to that point in time.  (Since then the largest decadal numerical increase was the addition of 32.7 million people reported in 2000 over 1990.)
  • U.S. population had increased by 14.5 percent over 1940.  (Significantly larger percentage increases occurred in the 19th century.)
  • Population increases in the west were larger than in the east.  California (53.3%) and Arizona (50.1%) had the largest gains, but Florida also grew by 46.1%. 
  • States that lost population included North Dakota (3.5%), Mississippi (0.2%), Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
  • 700,000 persons (travelers, etc.) were enumerated at some other place than their usual place of residence.
  • 168 standard metropolitan areas (SMAs) included more than 80% of the total increase between 1940 and 1950.  An SMA "comprises a county [or equivalent] or group of contiguous counties containing a city or several cities of 50,000 or more inhabitants."
  • The most rapid increase (34.7%) occurred in the outlying parts of SMAs (suburbs) rather than in their central cities.
  • Nearly half of U.S. counties lost population.  Generally, these were the smaller, least urban counties. On average, counties without an urban place in 1940 lost 4% of their population.
  • 67% of adults lived in urban areas.
  • 58% of children lived in urban areas, 23% in rural nonfarm areas, and only 19% on farms.
  • Children under age 5 accounted for 6 million of the 19.1 million increase - the baby boom had begun!

 

Recess time?  Group of children beginning to run - in front of the Consolidated Rural School, New Lyme, Connecticut, n.d. (NAID 169136236)

 

  • About 20% of children experienced a change in place of residence in the one year from April 1949 to April 1950, usually moving to a different dwelling in the same county.
  • Boys of high school or college age (14-20) in the north and west had finished about two more years of schooling than southern white boys and four more years of schooling than southern nonwhite boys.
  • 60% of youths aged 14 to 20 attended school.  Of those in school, about 14% were also employed.
  • Black migration from the south to other areas had continued, and there were 50% more nonwhite children in the north and west in 1950 than in 1940.
  • The income of southern Blacks was much less than southern whites, particularly among young women workers.  "Among southern girls 18 to 20 years old who had some income in 1949, about 40 percent of the white girls received more than $1000, but only 4 percent of the nonwhites earned this amount."
  • About one-third (33%) of youths age 18 to 20 had left the parental home, about evenly divided between those who had established a new home and those who were roomers in private homes, lodging houses, military posts, or institutions.
  • "Since 1940 there has been a sharp decline in the number of unmarried persons who were living as roomers in private homes or lodging houses" largely due to marriage.
  • Couples were marrying at a younger age than they had in the decade before 1940.