Rhode Island Population 2017


The state of Rhode Island is the smallest in the United States as far as surface area is concerned, but it has a healthy population by comparison. The last official US Census in 2010 showed that there were 1,052,567 people living in the state, and that made Rhode Island larger than seven other states across the country. As of 2016, the 2016 estimated population of Rhode Island is 1.056 million.

The 2016 population of Rhode Island is estimated at 1,056,298, which reflects only a 0.3% increase over the figures recorded during the last official Census held in 2010.

Read on to find out more about the population of Rhode Island, or click through to our overview article about the population of the United States to find out more about the demographics of the country as a whole.

The national 2010 Census showed Rhode Island's population was 1,052,567. The state's history has been filled with small falls alongside increases, although it has gone up steadily at every official census.

Rhode Island has just 1,545 square miles, and the Rhode Island population figures mean that there are 1,018.1 people on average for every square mile. The state is second only to New Jersey in terms of density.

Rhode Island has a corridor of population from the large Providence area to the northwest, following Blackstone River to Woonsocket. The state has just five counties, but no county government. Only the city of Providence has a population over 100,000, with an estimated 179,000 residents. Following in size are Warwick (81,699), Cranston (81,076), Pawtucket (71,591) and East Providence (47,408).

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Rhode Island Population Chart

Rhode Island Population History

Although there has always been a healthy growth as far as the population of Rhode Island is concerned, it has been steady rather than spectacular.

In 1790, there were 68,825 people living in the state, and ten years later that figure had grown by just 0.4% to 69,122. The biggest increase in decade on decade terms came in 1850 when the Rhode Island population was measured at 147,545, a 35.6% rise on numbers from ten years earlier.

In its early days, Rhode Island was heavily involved in the slave trade, which eventually moved into the Industrial Revolution and fishing. Much of Rhode Island's growth and economy is today based on healthcare, education and some manufacturing.

Rhode Island Population Growth

Rhode Island in the recent past has experienced a small decrease in population, which may continue. This is because its natural growth rate has declined as its population ages. Current estimates show there will be some growth between 2020 and 2035, but it will only be after some population decline.

Net migration has always contributed healthily to Rhode Island population statistics, although time will tell if this continues, and if it can make up for a population that is quickly aging.

The population of Rhode Island in 2016 is an interesting one to monitor because there are only very small fluctuations in numbers and there have even been some falls recorded throughout the State’s history.

With such a densely populated area, Rhode Island may have little capacity for further growth and the 2020 statistics could be very revealing. It's estimated now that Rhode Island's population will reach just 1.07 million in 2035, but then start to decline again by 2040.

Population Data via US Census

Rhode Island Growth Rate

Rhode Island State Rank

Year Pop % Change
2020 1,063,253 0.13%
2019 1,061,862 0.13%
2018 1,060,471 0.13%
2017 1,059,080 0.13%
2016 1,057,689 0.13%
2015 1,056,298 0.13%
2014 1,054,907 0.19%
2013 1,052,856 0.04%
2012 1,052,393 0.05%
2011 1,051,856 -0.07%
2010 1,052,567 0.04%
2000 1,048,319 0.44%
1990 1,003,464 0.58%
1980 947,154 0.00%
1970 946,725 0.97%
1960 859,488 0.82%
1950 791,896 1.05%
1940 713,346 0.37%
1930 687,497 1.30%
1920 604,397 1.08%
1910 542,610 2.39%
1900 428,556 2.18%
1890 345,506 2.25%
1880 276,531 2.44%
1870 217,353 2.21%
1860 174,620 1.70%
1850 147,545 3.09%
1840 108,830 1.14%
1830 97,199 1.58%
1820 83,059 0.77%
1810 76,931 1.08%
1800 69,122 0.04%
1790 68,825 0.00%

Rhode Island Facts

Rhode Island Population in 2017 Source: Will Hart

  • The Narragansett tribe was the largest Native American group to inhabit what is now Rhode Island.
  • Providence was founded and settled in 1636 by Roger Williams, a minister who left Massachusetts when Puritan leaders began to force out settlers who did not believe as they did.
  • Settlers who wanted religious and political freedom came to Rhode Island.
  • Rhode Island is split into 39 municipalities and does not have a county government.
  • The oldest operating tavern in the US is The White House Tavern, which was built in 1673.
  • The highest percentage of Catholics in the nation reside in Rhode Island.
  • The state's official name is State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
  • Rhode Island is home to the first Baptist church in the US and the oldest synagogue in North America.

Rhode Island Population Density by County

  • Population
  • Density
  • Growth Since 2010
  • State Rank
  • % of State

Rhode Island Population Growth Rate by County

As the smallest state in the US, it comes as no surprise that the state of Rhode Island has just five counties, making it easy to evaluate the population growth patterns by county. When examining data from the 2010 population compared to estimates taken in 2015 by the Census Bureau, this information shows that many of Rhode Island's counties saw declines in population. However, the northernmost county of Providence did see a gain in population during the 5-year period, posting a gain of 1.02%.

However, the remaining four counties saw population losses. The biggest happened in Bristol County, with a loss of 1.56% of its population. This was followed by Newport County at 0.86%, Kent County at 0.75%, and Washington County with 0.45%.

Population Pyramid

To compare Rhode Island to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage

The largest ancestry groups in Rhode Island include: Irish (19%), Italian (18.7%), English (11.7%), French (11,3%), Portuguese (9.6%), German (5.6%), French Canadian (4.7%), Polish (4.1%), Dominican (4.02%), Puerto Rican (3.14%) and Chinese (2.2%). The state has the highest percentage of people of Portuguese ancestry than any other state, as well as a high percentage of Liberian immigrants, accounting for 15,000 residents.

When compared to the other states, Rhode Island is ranked 13th in terms of the percentage of its Hispanic and Latino residents. Breaking this down further, Rhode Island is also ranked 6th in the nation for its percentage of Mexican American residents and 6th in Puerto Rican residents.

Rhode Island is ranked 20th out of all 50 states as far as percentage of Asian American inhabitants compared to total population of the state. In terms of pure numbers, the state is ranked 38th for its number of Asian Americans. With just 0.6% of its population made up of Native American residents, Rhode Island's Native American population falls below the national average.

Languages Spoken in Rhode Island

Language Population Percentage
Population 5 years and over 995,757 100
English 826,187 82.97
Spanish 109,455 10.99
Portuguese 32,100 3.22
French 10,650 1.07
Chinese 4,490 0.45
Kru, Ibo, Yoruba 2,435 0.24
German 1,620 0.16
Mandarin 860 0.09
Nepali 575 0.06

This chart shows the top 10 non-English languages that are spoken at home in Rhode Island. The data comes from the most recent release of the American Community Survey (ACS).

Rhode Island Economy

HighSchoolGraduate 85
BachelorsDegree 31
Disabled 9
NoHealthInsurance 9
LaborForceTotal 66
LaborForceFemale 62
FoodServiceSales 2,481,314
HealthCareRevenue 8,223,005
ManufacturerShipments 11,262,158
MerchantWholesalesSales 22,310,389
RetailSales 12,063,865
RetailSalesPerCapita 11,486
MeanWorkTravelTime 24
MedianHouseholdIncome 56,423
PerCapitaIncome 30,765
PovertyPercentage 14

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Rhode Island for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 5.6% and the labor force participation rate is 65.8%.

Rhode Island Business

NonemployerEstablishments 75,223
AllFirms 94,642
MenOwnedFirms 54,651
WomenOwnedFirms 30,484
MinorityOwnedFirms 14,737
NonminorityOwnedFirms 77,042
VeteranOwnedFirms 9,904
NonveteranOwn 79,837

Rhode Island Housing

HousingUnits 462,578
HousingUnits 463,388
OwnerOccupiedRate 60
OwnerOccupiedMedianValue 241,200
MonthlyOwnerCostsMortage 1,867
MonthlyOwnerCostsNoMortage 679
MedianGrossRent 923
BuildingPermits 998
Households 409,569
PersonsPerHousehold 2
SameHouseOneYearAgo 87
NonEnglishAtHome 21
Data Sources
  1. Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  2. Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program - released 6/23/2016
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts