Image 1:

The population of Arkansas reached 3,017,804 in 2019. In line with previous estimates, the counties in Central Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas remain the most populous in the state. With 391,911 inhabitants, Pulaski is still the state’s most populated county, followed by Benton (279,141) and Washington Counties (239,187). The counties with the smallest populations are Calhoun (5,227), Woodruff (6,466), and Lafayette (6,679).

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Consistent with well-established trends, Central and Northwest Arkansas remain the fastest growing areas in the state. Benton County had the state’s highest growth rate with a population increase of 26.1%, followed by Washington County at 17.8%. However, most counties in Arkansas lost population. This loss was particularly acute for counties in or adjacent to the Mississippi River Delta, many of which suffered population reductions in excess of 10%. A prime example is Phillips County, which lost 18.3% of its population, more than any other county in the state.

Additional links:

The total population, median age and racial composition of Arkansas has changed significantly during the past decade.

Table 1: Percentage of growth of the population in Arkansas by racial group

PopulationTotalWhiteBlack or African AmericanAmerican Indian and Alaska NativeAsianNative Hawaiian and Other Pacific IslanderTwo or More RacesHispanic
Change Percent1.65%3.79%15.14%32.52%59.82%30.93%24.36%

As table 1 shows, the population of Arkansas topped three million in 2018, up from 2.92 million in 2010. The white population of the state experienced the largest actual number increase – about forty thousand. However that only constitutes a 1.66% percentage increase among those who identify as white, the smallest increase of any racial group.  Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders on the other hand, added only thousand people but increased their share of the population by 59.83%. Other racial groups including American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Asians and Hispanic or Latinos saw double digit percentage increases. Black Americans, the state’s second largest racial group, grew by 3.78%.

Graph 1

Graph 1 shows that the median age for the state’s total population increased 0.9 years from 2010 to 2018.  The median age for women is significantly higher than men, and that trend has held steady for the period examined.

Table 2: Change in the median age of the population in Arkansas by racial group

Median ageTotalWhiteBlack or African AmericanAmerican Indian and Alaska NativeAsianNative Hawaiian and Other Pacific IslanderTwo or More RacesHispanic

Table 2 shows the changes in median age by race. With the exception of people who identify as two or more races, all racial groups and Hispanic or Latino groups showed increases in the median age. The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population increased from 23.1 to 26.4 years of age between 2010 and 2018, the most of any racial group.  The decrease experienced by people who identify as two or more races from 19.7 to 19.6., may be attributable to the inclination of younger people to select multiple races in Census Bureau surveys.

Additional links:

 TotalForeign BornNative
Total (2018)3,013,825143,7092,870,116
Total (2010)2,921,606131,6672,789,939
Growth (2010-2018)92,21912,042801,77
Growth % (2010-2018)3.2%9.1%2.9%
Percent (2018)---4.8%95.2%

Table 1 indicates that 4.8% of Arkansas residents in 2018 were born outside of the United States, up slightly from 4.5% in 2010, according to the latest estimates from the Census Bureau. The actual number of foreign born residents in the state increased just over 9% from 131,667 in 2010 to 143,709 in 2018.

 TotalForeign BornNative
Median Age38.139.738
Labor force (2018)57.971.157.1
Unemployment (2018)
Poverty (2018)
MHI (2018)47,06247,78647,004
Completed bachellor's or higher (2018)23.320.323.5

Table 2 shows that the median age for Arkansas residents born outside the United States is 39.7 years of age. Since most of the state’s foreign born population is between the ages of 15 and 54, the percentage in the labor force is significantly higher than among native born residents. A smaller percentage of foreign born residents hold bachelor degrees or higher when compared with native Arkansans although the median income for members of foreign born households is slightly higher.  The unemployment rate and the percentage of households in poverty is higher among native residents.

Additional links:

People who are not part of the labor force, usually individuals between the ages of 0 and 14 or those 65 and over, are classed as dependent populations. Comparing the size of the dependent population in rural Arkansas to the labor force that supports them indicates the dependency ratio. The ratio, in turn, is critical to determining the level of financial stress on the rural working population of the state.

Rural Arkansas, defined as the fifteen counties considered one-hundred percent rural by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Calhoun, Cleveland, Izard, Lafayette, Lincoln, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Newton, Perry, Pike, Prairie, Searcy, Stone, Van Buren, and Woodruff Counties.

Table 1 illustrates how the distribution of the labor force and the dependent population in rural Arkansas changed between 1960 and 2018. While the population of rural Arkansas increased 34% from 129,612 to 175,315 from 1960 to 2010, the percentage of dependents declined almost 7% relative to the percentage of people in the labor force.

This could be considered a positive trend since it shows a decrease in the number of dependents relying on the labor force, but this cannot be assumed since Table 1 does not reflect fluctuations in the population of children and senior citizens. 2010 to 2018 saw a 3% decline in the population of the state’s rural counties and a 3% increase in the percentage of dependents compared with the overall labor force, a reversal of the slow decrease evident between 1960 and 2010.

Table 2 shows the number of people considered dependent (over 64 or under 15) for every 100 persons in the workforce. Consistent with the trend shown in Table 1, the ratio of dependent individuals for every 100 people in the workforce between 1960 and 2010 decreased from around 76 to 58. The increase in the percentage of dependents in rural Arkansas between 2010 and 2018 is also reflected in in the number of dependents per 100 persons in the labor force which jumped from 58 to 66.

Table 2 also shows a steady decrease in the younger share of the rural population accompanied by a general increase in the number of older residents. Since 1960 the ratio of dependent adults has nearly doubled from 23 to 39 per 100, while the ratio for dependent children decreased from 53 to 27 per 100. 2010 is the first time in 50 years that the adult dependency ratio (31 per 100) in rural Arkansas exceeded the child dependency ratio (29 per 100).

This recent shift should be closely monitored since a drop in the number of young people entering the work force coupled with an increase in older people exiting it will place more pressure on the work force sustaining both groups.

Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Website
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • Counting every person living in the United States “once, only once, and in the right place” is the goal of the decennial Census. Census data is then used to help determine the annual allocation of nearly $600 billion dollars in federal programs nationwide. Because a state’s share of federal dollars depends on an accurate population count, “hard to count” residents pose a significant challenge for local, state and federal officials.

    Children, defined by the census Bureau as anyone under the age of 18, are often undercounted. Confusion about responsibility for filling out census forms for children in shared custody arrangements, living with grandparents, or residing in other non-traditional households are contributing factors. Nonetheless, taking an accurate count is critical since close to $3,000 per child in federal money for schools, meals, and medical expenses is apportioned using census data.

    Table 1: Percent of Households with Children

     TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    United States73,403,16766.4824.9

    Table 1 indicates that 66% of the 73 million plus children in the U.S. live with a married couple1, 25% with a single female2 and 8% with a single male3. Arkansas’s 705,930 children are similarly distributed. The same holds true when comparing children by age group as shown in Table 2.

    Table 2: Percent of Children in households by age group

     United States   Arkansas   
    TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle FemaleTotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    Under 6 (%)32.132.833.330.132323730.8
    6 to 11 years (%)33.833.633.534.434.634.430.136.3
    12 to 17 years (%)3433.533.235.533.433.532.932.9

    Table 3: Percent of Children in Households by Race, Ethnicity, and Origin

     United States   Arkansas   
    TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle FemaleTotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    White (%)66.772.96550.669.178.570.847
    Black or African American (%)147.814.330.217.691638.5
    Native American (%)
    Asian (%)
    Pacific Islander (%)
    Other (%)
    Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race) (%)25.223.13129.112.51113.415.8
    Foreign born (%)

    According to Table 3 the vast majority of children in the United States and Arkansas identify as white. A disproportionate percentage of Black or African American children in America live in single female households than other ethnic groups. This is evidenced by comparing the percentages of the total children that identify as Black or African American (14%) and the ones living in single female households (30.2%). This is also true for children in Arkansas. The percentage of foreign born and Hispanic or Latino children in Arkansas is well below the national rate.

    Table 4: Percent of Children in Different Households

     United States   Arkansas   
    TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle FemaleTotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    Own child (%)87.79280.281.186.390.98080.1
    Grandchild (%)8.168.813.
    Other relatives (%)
    Foster child or other unrelated child (%)
    Partner present (%)7.842.216.27.93915.9

    Table 4 indicates that 88% of all children in the US live with at least one of their parents. Also shown, along with the percentage living with other relatives or foster parents, is the share of children living in married households and households headed by single males and single females. A high percentage of children (13.8%) living in single female households in both Arkansas and the US live with their grandmother.

    Table 5: Median Income of Households with children

     TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    United States71,39496,05742,50027,894

    The median income for children living in households, as shown in Table 5, is considerably larger for the US (71,394) than for Arkansas (53,637). Median income for married couples in both Arkansas and the country is higher than single male and single female households. Households headed by single males also consistently outperform single female households. This could be linked to the fact that 40% of single male households with children also have a non-married partner in the house while the same is true for only 16% of households headed by single females.

    Table 6: Percent of Children Living in Households Receiving Public Assistance

     TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    United States25.31530.850.8

    Table 7: Percent of Children Living in Households with Income Below Poverty Level

     TotalMarriedSingle MaleSingle Female
    United States18.48.822.342.5

    Table 6 and 7 indicate that this pattern repeats among children in households who receive public assistance and/or live below the poverty level. In the United States and Arkansas about 51% of ‘single female’ households receive some form of public assistance and well over 40% are below the poverty level. By contrast only about 15% of ‘married-couple’ households rely on public assistance and a slightly higher percentage (18.4% in the US and 22.5% in Arkansas) fall below the poverty level.

    Despite significant disparities in total median income earned, income earned by married and single male households and the total percentage of households with foreign born children or children of Hispanic or Latino origin, most trends involving households with children in Arkansas and the US are remarkably similar. Even a cursory examination of the available data on children makes plain the obstacles blocking an accurate total. This does not change the fact that Arkansas, along with the rest of the nation, must work proactively to insure as complete a census count of our children as possible.

    1 ‘Married couple household’ refers to any household in which both the husband and wife are present. Currently the Census Bureau does not include same sex marriages under this definition.
    2 ‘Single Male household’ refers to households with a male householder and no wife present, and could include married same sex couples and married couples living separately.
    3 ‘Single Female household’ refers to households with a female householder and no husband present, and could include married same sex couples and married couples living separately.

    Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Website
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • Changes in US Foreign Born Population since 1970.*

    Graph 1

    Graph 1 shows that the percentage of the Latin American-born immigrants (comprised of individuals from Mexico, Cuba, la Hispaniola, Central America, and South America) has been increasing in the United States since the 1970s and in Arkansas since the 1990s. These percentages may be even higher since this population is considered ‘hard to count.’ (link to article).

    Graph 2

    The percentage of Asian-born immigrants in the United States (Graph 2) has grown from 0.4% of the population in 1970 to 4.3% by 2017, a nearly tenfold increase. In Arkansas, for this period, this population increased from 0.1% to 1.2%.

    Graph 3

    Graph 3 puts immigrants from Europe (encompassing all European countries, including Russia but excluding Turkey) at 1.5% of the population, comprising the third largest share of foreign born people living in the United States. While the percentage of people born in Europe experienced a sharp decrease nationwide between the 1970’s (2.8%) and the 1990’s (1.7%), Arkansas’s percentage of European-born population for this period stayed consistent at around 0.3%.

    Graph 4

    The percentage of foreign born individuals from North America (comprising those born in Canada, Greenland, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon) in the US (Graph 4) has decreased steadily since the 1970s. By contrast this population in Arkansas experienced a modest increase from 0.03% to 0.09%.

    Graph 5

    Graph 5 charts people born in an ‘other’ country, such as Africa and Oceania, and those who did not report which country they were born in. This category was compiled to maintain consistency with older decennial Census data and does not allow countries included to be separated and compared individually. The percentage of foreign-born individuals coming from ‘other’ countries has increased overall in the United States and Arkansas since 1970, experiencing a lull in growth between the 1990s and 2000s.

    The composition of the population of Arkansas and the United States has changed rapidly since 1970. In 2017 foreign born individuals made up 4.7% of the total population in Arkansas and 13.4% in the United States. In 1970 these percentages were just 0.4% and 4.7% respectively. The majority of this population growth originated from Asian and Hispanic countries and can be attributed to the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which eased restrictions on foreign immigrants from non-European countries.

    *Since Census Bureau categories for tracking the foreign-born population have changed during this period, they have been compiled to insure comparability.

    Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Webiste
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • Use the following steps to apply for a temporary job with the Census Bureau for the 2020 Census:

    1. Go to Before clicking the “Apply Now” you can review preliminary information on job details, application requirements, and the positions and pay rates in your area.
    2. The “Apply Now” button takes you to the Census Career Site. For now click on “First-time Applicants Register Here.” To create your account you will need to provide some basic information. Once your account is created you will receive an email confirmation. The link in the email will take you back to the Career Site.

    3. This time select “Returning Applicants Login Here” and sign in. This will direct you to the Census Applicant Portal where you will find an Apply option and a FAQ/Help button. Click “Apply” to begin the application process.

    4. As part of the application process you must acknowledge that the information you provide is true and that you understand and agree to use an electronic signature.
    5. Next you will be provided some general information and instructions on the questions that will follow.
    6. The first portion of the application will ask for personal information (social security number, address, contact information, sex, place of birth, citizenship status), military service, government employment history, proficiency in languages, availability and available modes of transportation.
    7. The second portion will ask how you heard of the position, your ethnicity, race, and education, whether you have a disability or serious health conditions. You will also be asked if you wish to be considered for a supervisory position.
    8. The final portion will consist of an attitude test on various topics including work ethic, communication skills, and the ability to work in groups.
    9. Once this is done the application will be officially submitted. If you qualify, you should receive an email requesting the submission of a second form for follow up information within 24 hours.

    Additional links:

  • Arkansas State Data Center Webiste
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • Like the previous post, the data used here comes primarily from the corresponding decennial censuses with the exception of 2017, which uses the American Community Survey 2017 1-year estimates.

    Graph 1:

    Graph 1 shows that the percentage of the state’s population who self-identify as white held steady between 1970 and 2017, decreasing by around four percentage points. Nationwide this group experienced a decline of around 14 percentage points, dropping from 87.6% to 73.4%.

    Graph 2:

    Graph 2 shows that percentage of the population during this period who self-identified as black grew by 2% in the United States and decreased by 3% percent in Arkansas.

    Graph 3:

    The ‘Other’ category in Graph 3 charts the steady growth of Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander populations. Overall, the populations captured by this category grew by 8.2% in Arkansas and 13.9% nationwide. The strongest growth period for both the US and Arkansas occurred between 1990 and 2010, when these population groups increased by 8% and 6% respectively.

    The third and final post in this series will examine how the immigrant population has changed since the 70s in both our state and the U.S.

    Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Webiste
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • This post uses the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey 1 Year Estimates from 1970 to 2017 to examine changes in population, age, income, and the status of married couples in Arkansas and the United States.

    Graph 1

    Graph 1 shows that between 1970 and 1980 Arkansas’s population increased by 11.2%. The following decade saw a dramatic reduction in the state’s population growth rate, which by 1990 dropped 15% to around 4%. By contrast, the population growth rate in the United States fell almost 6% between 1970 and 1980, but stabilized at around 10% during the 1980’s. The growth rate for both the state and the U.S. rose significantly during the 1990s, deceasing slightly from 2000 until 2010. Population growth overall has slowed significantly since 2010. In 2017, the growth rate fell to 5.5% for United States and 3.03% for Arkansas.

    Graph 2

    In 1970, the median ages for Arkansas and the U.S. were 29.1 and 28.1 respectively. This gap closed as the median age grew so that by 2017 both Arkansas and the nation had a median age of 38.1.

    Graph 3

    Graph 3 shows the decline in married-couple households since the 1970s. Arkansas began the 70’s with 70.8% of couples living in married-couple households, nearly 5 percentage points more than the national rate of 66.1%. By 2010, the rate of married-couple households had slipped to 43% in both Arkansas and the U.S. This decline is due in part to a rise in unmarried-partners cohabiting, divorce, and other living arrangements.

    It is important to note that none of the Census documents between 1970 and 2017 count same-sex couples as married couples.

    Graph 4

    *Inflation-adjusted using the Consumer Price Index

    The growth in Real Median Household Income in Arkansas has followed the trend lines of the U.S. as a whole, albeit at significantly lower levels. This indicates that Arkansas, though influenced by national economic conditions, requires a local solution to improve its economic status.

    The next post in the series will examine how racial demographics in Arkansas and the U.S. have changed since the 1970’s.

    Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Webiste
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats
  • Following the example of a recent article from Pew Research, we will compare some of Arkansas demographics with those of the United States as a whole in two ways. In this first post we will only be using the estimated data for the 2013-2017 period and in the second we will compare them across various points in time. The data we will look are how the Millennial population compares to the Baby Boomer one, the racial distribution, how many children live in married households and how many live with unmarried partners, and what the percentage of population that is foreign born and where they are from.

    Figure 1:

    The Baby Boomers were born between the mid-1940s and the early 1960s, while the Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. We used the same age groups of 23-38 and 55-73 as Pew Research to represent the Millennials and Baby Boomers, respectively. As we can see in the above [graph] Arkansas has a slightly larger population of Baby Boomers than Millennials with around 21.0% and 21.6%, respectively. This is reversed for the United States as a whole where around 22.0% of the population are Millennials and 21.3% are Baby Boomers.

    Figure 2:

    Looking at both racial and ethnic identity, Arkansas differs slightly from the U.S. as a whole. The White population still has the largest share, but is 10 percentage points larger in Arkansas. People who identify as Black or from African descent hold a similar share of the population at 15.4% in Arkansas and 12.3% in the United States. The Hispanics and Asians populations in Arkansas are roughly 60% and 75% lower than in the rest of country.

    Figure 3:

    The number of children living in married households or with unmarried partners are similar for both the country and the state. In Arkansas 63.7% of children living in households live with people who are married, while in the U.S. this number slightly increases to 66.3%. In terms of unmarried partners, 7.5% of children live in this type of household in Arkansas and 7.8 in the United States. At first glance it may appear that Arkansas numbers are similar to the nations, even if a bit lower, however this difference translates to 3 percentage points more children living in other type of households in Arkansas, specifically single-parent households.

    Figure 4:

    Figure 5:

    Around 13% of the population in the United States are people that were born in another country. This migration is composed mostly of people from Latin American (51.2%) or Asian (30.5%) origin. Foreign born people account for only 4.7% of the population, similarly to the nation this group is mainly people from Latin America and Asia, with 62.0% and 23.7% respectively.

    Additional links:

  • Original Pew Research article: 6 demographic trends shaping the U.S. and the world in 2019
  • Arkansas State Data Center Webiste
  • For additional data from Arkansas be sure to check out Arkanstats