Do you live in a state that feels like it’s practically bursting at the seams with people? Everywhere you look there are crowds upon crowds and you are just one in millions commuting to work on a normal Monday morning?
Perhaps you have the opposite and you drive long commutes but rarely see anyone? Do you work in a remote location and have to work from home in order to avoid working at your local Piggly Wiggly or bank?
You might feel like you live in the middle of nowhere, but if you drive an hour or two, find yourself in one of America’s largest cities, teeming with people.
But perhaps you feel the opposite. Sometimes states feel like there are too many people in it. Take New York, for example.
When we think of New York, we tend to only think about New York City, which is one of the most populated cities in the world. Yet, the rest of the state isn’t the same. You can have country homes in New York– out of sight, out of mind, right?
So when we think about population density on a state level, does New York still reign supreme? What are the most populated states in America? Some may be obvious and some might just surprise you.
Luckily, we have taken the work out of finding the answer to these questions.
Here are the 10 most populous states in America for 2021.
We looked analyzed all of the states in the U.S. looking for the highest population density.
Our winner is one that people could guess easily. Not New York, but rather California. It’s no shocker that the largest state in the U.S. is also the most populous.
But then come the surprising states.
Georgia and North Carolina? They only have one or two massive cities and pictures of these states usually emphasize their beautiful countrysides, beaches, and mountains.
Interested to learn how these states got ranked? Read on to learn more about our methodology and why each of our top ten are where Americans love to live.
How We Determined The Largest States By Population For 2021
Well, in the grand scheme of the some 60 article types we’ve created for the site over the past four plus years, this has to be the easiest analysis we’ve done.
Using the most recent Census data from the American Community Survey 2013-2017, we got the population of every state in America.
We then ranked them based on population from highest, California (Obvious), to lowest, Wyoming (What the heck, there are how many people that live in Alaska?).
The state with the largest population, California, wins the prize of being the biggest state in America based on population for 2021.
Read on for some more reading about each of the top 10 states and full breakdown of every state at the bottom.
These Are The 10 Most Populous States In America For 2021
California It’s a no-brainer that California is one of the most populous states in the U.S. Have you seen the size of California on the map? It is the largest state and also the most populous.
California is home to several large cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco.
California is one of the most liked states and it’s clear that people flock to this state to soak up the sun.
Like California, Texas is a monstrously large state. Several cities in Texas are so densely populated, they could hold a country in them. Think Houston. Other large cities in Texas include San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.
Texas’s population ranking also is bolstered by the sheer size of the state. Not everyone lives in the larger cities and those numbers add up if you are the size of Texas.
Third runner up on most populous state is Florida. This state is home to many large cities and is fairly large as well. While some states may have one or two large cities, Florida has over five cities that are home to over 200,000 people. The largest city in Florida has just over a whopping 892,000 people.
So while some parts of Florida are the swampy Everglades, the density is more than made up for in the cities.
And here is where we finally get to New York. You would think that New York would be higher on the list because of New York City’s immense population size, but actually, it just creates a population illusion for the state. New York is a large state and is relatively free of large cities except for New York City.
So although the Big Apple is densely populated, the other cities are very small in comparison.
Pennsylvania is very densely populated in some areas. If you haven’t heard of Philly or Pittsburgh, then you have not seen Pennsylvania in its people-glory. Philadelphia is home to over 1.5 million people– a number many states can’t brag about.
There are so many people in this city compared to the rest of the state and you wonder if perhaps the Philly cheesesteaks are the driving factor.
Ever think about why Illinois would make our top 10 most populated state in America list?
You guessed it, Chicago.
Chicago is home to nearly 3 million people and that doesn’t include the masses that commute far into the city for work. Illinois, however, is like New York: you’ve got one massive city but are lacking everywhere else.
For this reason, Illinois is number 5 on our most populated states in the U.S. ranking.
Ohio is one of America’s most populous states because of its factories and industry.
Ohio has many larger cities, which include Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.
It is also a major state for healthcare: ever heard of the Cleveland Clinic? If you still like being around people, but are not a huge city fan, there are many smaller scale cities in Ohio within close distance of the big three. So here, you can have the best of both worlds.
Georgia is a state that may surprise people for being highly populated.
How many people do you know from Georgia? If the answer is not many, it may not be because no one lives in Georgia, but rather that people love living in Georgia so much they never move. Georgia does have a lot of farmland, but it also has a city that is not small by any means: Atlanta.
Georgia may be a bit bipolar in terms of population areas, but it stays in our top 10 pretty firmly.
North Carolina may be the most well-known southern states, outside of Florida, for being loved by its people.
North Carolina is the southern destination for northern transplants and has pretty much anything you could want. From small beach towns to large cities like Charlotte, there is a place for everyone, so it’s no wonder this state comes up as one of the most populous.
The Research Triangle Park (RTP) region is also a major hub for research and tech companies.
Last but not least comes Michigan.
This state is very large compared to some others and could swallow many New England states. It also is home to large metro areas like Detroit and Grand Rapids. You may think that most people have left Detroit, but it still is home to over 670,000 people.
Those cities, coupled with the many smaller towns throughout this large state make this state round out our top 10 list perfectly.
Wrapping Up The Biggest States In The US By Population For 2021
That’s a wrap for the states in the U.S. with the biggest population. If you are living out in the boonies of Texas wondering why anyone would move to your state, think again. Moving to Houston could spice up your life a good bit if you are tired of the ranch life.
Population depends on two factors when it comes to U.S. states: state size and city density. You could have a smaller state that is filled with large, densely populated cities and has an overall state population more than a larger state with no one living in it. (Sorry Utah).
Or you can be an underdog for the win and have so much square mileage with a ton of medium-sized cities that you end up coming out ahead.
Either way, you can come to one conclusion from this article: America is massive. It is a constantly growing country, so who knows what next years top 10 will bring. Maybe even Utah will one day make top 10?
Here’s a quick look at the smallest states:
For more reading, check out:
- Richest Places By State
- Worst Places To Live By State
- Best Places By State
- Worst Mid-Sized Cities
- Best Places To Live In America
- Richest States In America
Detailed List Of US States By Population 2021