Wisconsin Population 2017

5,789,525

Wisconsin is part of the Great Lakes region of the country, located in the north Midwest. With a surface area of around 65,497.82 square miles, it is a relatively large state with a population to match -- it is the 23rd biggest state in the country, and in terms of population, it is the 20th most populous state in the US. The 2017 population of Wisconsin is estimated at 5.79 million. The state currently has a growth rate of 0.35%, which ranks 39th in the state.

The last census within the US was carried out in 2010, so in order to judge the population of Wisconsin in 2017, those figures have to be projected forward in the best way possible. Based on the state's growth rate, the population is now 5.79 million in 2017, showing a 1.5% growth from the 2010 figure of 5,686,986.

Within the surface area of 65,497.82 miles, there is an average of 105 people for every square mile of Wisconsin land. That figure converts to 39.6 people for every square kilometer and it makes Wisconsin the 23rd most densely populated state in the entire US.

The state's biggest city by far is Milwaukee, with a population exceeding 600,000. This is followed by Madison (pop 248,000), Green Bay (pop 105,207) and Kenosha (pop 99,858). The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis Metropolitan Statistical Area has an estimated population of 1.55 million.

Wisconsin Population History

Wisconsin was part of the Northwest Territory organized in 1787, then of Indiana Territory (1800). In 1809 it was included in the new Illinois Territory, except for the northern part of the Door Peninsula, which remained in Indiana Territory. In 1818 Michigan Territory expanded to include the whole of present-day Wisconsin. Wisconsin Territory was organized in 1836 and briefly included all of Minnesota and Iowa and the Dakotas east of the Missouri River. After Iowa Territory was organized in 1838, only northeastern Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River and a line from its source north to the Canadian boundary, remained in Wisconsin Territory. Wisconsin was admitted as a State on May 29, 1848 with essentially its present boundaries.

There was only limited census coverage of the present area of the State prior to 1840. In 1790 the Northwest Territory had no census coverage. The 1800 census for Indiana Territory reported populations for Green Bay (50) and Prairie du Chien (65); in 1810 any settlers enumerated in these or other Wisconsin communities were reported as part of St. Clair County, Illinois Territory. In 1820 Crawford and Brown Counties, Michigan Territory, included nearly all of present-day Wisconsin; Crawford also included northeastern Minnesota but this had no census coverage. This also was the case in 1830, with the addition of Iowa County from part of Crawford. In 1840 some persons in northeastern Minnesota were enumerated in St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory.

Wisconsin Population Chart

Wisconsin Population History

In 1820, Wisconsin’s population figures stood at a mere 1,444, but like in many areas of the US in the early 19th century, an explosion in numbers was just over the horizon. Just ten years later, a rise of over 150% took those figures to 3,635.

However, the biggest population spike came between the years of 1840 and 1850 when an incredible increase of nearly 900% took the population of Wisconsin from 305,391 to 775,881. Although the increases began to slow down, the overall picture was one of growth and by the start of the 20th century, numbers were recorded at 2,069,042.

That pattern continued through the 20th century and as census by census growth started to settle down, the numbers grew at a steady pace. As a result, the population of Wisconsin in 2016 is starting to climb toward the next milestone of 6 million.

Wisconsin Population Projections

Population growth in Wisconsin has been steady and as such, this is one of the easier states to predict in terms of further increases than some of the states that have seen both increases and decreases in their populations.

Wisconsin considers itself a very immigrant-friendly area, and many semiskilled people are able to find work in the state in a relatively short amount of time. In fact, a considerable number of refugees and asylum-seekers come to Wisconsin after being turned down elsewhere.

There is nothing to suggest that the pattern of Wisconsin population growth is going to slow down, and therefore, by the time of the next census in 2020, it is possible that the Wisconsin population will have exceeded its next major landmark of 6 million people.

Projections currently show Wisconsin will reach 6.375 million residents by 2030, growing 19.5% between 2000 and 2030. The amount of senior citizens in the state is expected to climb from its current 13% to 21% by that time. 70 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are projected to grow over the next 20 years, although not at a fast pace.

Population Data via US Census

Wisconsin Growth Rate

Wisconsin Population Rank

Year Pop % Change
20205,821,9760.19%
20195,811,1590.19%
20185,800,3420.19%
20175,789,5250.19%
20165,778,7080.19%
20155,767,8910.17%
20145,758,3770.27%
20135,742,8540.29%
20125,726,1770.29%
20115,709,6400.40%
20105,686,9860.59%
20005,363,6750.93%
19904,891,7690.39%
19804,705,7670.63%
19704,417,7311.12%
19603,951,7771.41%
19503,434,5750.91%
19403,137,5870.66%
19302,939,0061.11%
19202,632,0671.21%
19102,333,8601.21%
19002,069,0422.02%
18901,693,3302.56%
18801,315,4972.23%
18701,054,6703.12%
1860775,8819.77%
1850305,39125.73%
184030,94523.88%
18303,6359.67%
18201,4440.00%

Wisconsin Facts

Wisconsin Population in 2018Source: Towpilot

  • The Winnebago, Menominee, and Dakota Indians were among the first inhabitants of the land that is now Wisconsin.
  • Wisconsin became property of the United States following the American Revolution. Settlers began flocking to the area to work in the lumber, mining and dairy industries.
  • In 1854, a meeting held in Ripon to oppose the expansion of slavery led to the birth of the Republican Party.
  • Wisconsin produces about 15% of the milk in the US -- more than any other state.
  • The state has over 16,000 named lakes.
  • Wisconsin has a high number of German residents, earning it the title as the most German-American state in the country.
  • The Harley Davidson Motorcycle company was founded in Milwaukee.
  • The largest water park in the US -- Noah's Ark Family Park -- is located in Wisconsin Dells.

Wisconsin Population Density by County

Milwaukee County

  • Population951,448
  • Density3939.95 per sq km
  • Growth Since 20100.33%
  • State Rank1
  • % of State16.46%

Wisconsin Population Growth Rate by County

The state of Wisconsin has many counties, and of these counties, significant population losses and gains have been recorded based on 2010 data from the Census and estimates taken by the Census Bureau in 2015. This data shows that the highest gain in population was recorded in Menominee County, with a population growth rate of 7.22% during the 5-year period. Dane County's 7.04% growth rate was the 2nd highest in the state. There were multiple other counties that posted growth in populations from 2010 to 2015, albeit at smaller rates. These counties include Vernon, Brown, Eau Claire, and St. Croix, just to name a few.

There were other states that had declines in their populations during the same period of 2010 to 2015. The highest loss happened in Rusk County, with a 4.04%. This was followed by Langlade County of 3.61%, Adams County at 3.43%, and others including Richland, Lincoln, and Forest. Smaller losses were recorded in counties including Douglas, Sawyer, Wood, and others.

Population Pyramid

0k10k20k30k40kWisconsin Male Population0k10k20k30k40kWisconsin Female Population

To compare Wisconsin to other states, click here.

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
Two or More Races104,7161.81%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander2,9340.05%
Asian159,6452.77%
American Indian and Alaska Native65,0721.13%
Black or African American381,3766.61%
White5,057,59487.63%

Wisconsin's largest ancestry groups include: German (42.6%), Irish (10.9%), Polish (9.3%), Norwegian (8.5%) and English (6.5%). Wisconsin has more people of Polish ancestry than any other state in terms of percentage. The Norwegian population originally settled in the farming and lumbering areas, while African Americans came to the state from the 1940s on. Interestingly, Menominee County is the only county on the eastern part of the country with an American Indian majority population.

About 86% of Wisconsin's African American population lives in Kenosha, Beloit, Racine and Milwaukee. Only Detroit and Cleveland have higher percentages of African Americans in the Great Lakes region of the United States. In terms of the state's Asian American and African American population, the state falls squarely in the middle when compared to other states, ranking 26th and 30th out of 50, respectively.

Languages Spoken in Wisconsin

Language Population Percentage
Albanian2,6250.05%
Serbian2,9550.06%
Dutch3,0400.06%
Pennsylvania Dutch7,2050.13%
Chinese12,1300.23%
French12,3800.23%
German36,4000.68%
Spanish243,5604.55%
English4,995,04793.27%
Population 5 years and over5,355,576100.00%

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

Wisconsin Economy

IndicatorValue
High school graduate or higher 90.8%
Bachelor's degree or higher 27.4%
With a Disability 8%
Persons Without Health Insurance 8.6%
In Civilian Labor Force 67.4%
In Civilian Labor Force (Female) 63.8%
Food Services Sales $10,303,256
Health Care Revenue $40,680,625,000
Manufacturers Shipments $177,728,926,000
Merchant Wholesaler Sales $77,066,883,000
Total Retail Sales $78,201,822,000
Total Retail Sales per Capita $13,656
Mean Travel Time to Work 21.8 minutes
Median Household Income $52,738
Per Capita Income (past 12 months) $27,907
Persons in Poverty 13.2%

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Wisconsin for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 4.2% and the labor force participation rate is 67.2%.

Wisconsin Business

IndicatorValue
Total Nonemployer Establishments 339,963
All firms 432,980
Men-owned Firms 236,252
Women-owned Firms 133,859
Minority-owned Firms 40,507
Nonminority-owned Firms 379,934
Veternan-owned Firms 39,830
Nonveteran-owned Firms 370,755

Wisconsin Housing

IndicatorValue
Housing Units 2,624,358
Owner Occupied Housing Rate 67.7%
Median Value Owner Occupied Housing Units $165,900
Median Monthly Owner Costs (w/Mortgage) $1,431
Median Monthly Owner Costs (no mortgage) $533
Median Gross Rent $772
Building Permits 16,793
Households 2,293,250
Persons per Household 2.43 persons
Living in Same House 1 Year Ago 85.8%
Language Other than English Spoken at Home 8.6%
Data Sources
  1. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  2. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  4. Census QuickFacts
  5. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)