Charleston, South Carolina Population 2020

136,208

Charleston is the second-largest and oldest city in South Carolina. Located in Charleston County on Charleston Harbor, Charleston has a population of 120,000, although an official 2017 estimate places the population at 136,208. Charleston is the 200th largest city in the United States.

Population Density and Metro Area

Charleston has a population density of 1,152 people per square mile (445/square kilometer) in the city property. The larger urban area has a population estimated at 550,000. Charleston is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which comprises Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. The Charleston MSA has a population estimated at 713,000, which makes it the 76th largest MSA in the country.

Charleston Crime Statistics

Charleston was once one of the most dangerous cities in America based on the number of crimes committed per 100,000 people. The crime rate has been declining, however. In 1999, there were 597 crimes per 100,000 people, although the rate dropped to 236/100,000 people by 2011. This compares with the national average of 320/100,000 people.

Charleston History

When Charles II of England retook the throne in 1660, he granted a charter to the Province of Carolina and sent the eight Lord Proprietors in 1663. It took several years for them to arrange for expeditions, although the first -- Charles Town -- was founded in 1670. Charles Town (which was later changed to Charleston) was settled by people from Bermuda under governor William Sayle. The settlement quickly became a major port town.

In 1718, the town was attacked by infamous pirate Edward Teach, better known as 'Blackbeard'. As the capital of the colony, Charles Town was the southernmost English settlement in America until the Georgia colony was established decades later. It was subjected to many attacks from France, Spain, and pirates for the 40 years.

Most early settlers were from England, the Barbados colony, and Bermuda. Among the first settlers were free people of color who were born in the West Indies to Englanders and Africans. Even in the beginning, Charleston attracted people from many religious and ethnic groups. It was once home to the richest and largest Jewish community in all of North America until 1830.

Charles Town was the most extensive and wealthiest city south of Philadelphia by the mid-1700s, becoming the 4th largest port in the colonies behind Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Charleston was a significant point in the Revolutionary War. While it lost its status as the state capital in 1786, it became very prosperous with an economy dominated by cotton plantations until the mid-19th century. By 1860, almost 18% of the city's black population were free people of color or nearly 8% of the total population.

Charleston's 300-year history is evident in most neighborhoods, especially the city center, which has a large and well-preserved residential historic area that's popular with tourists. The city's downtown is free of skyscrapers. Instead, Charleston boasts historic plantation homes alongside new retail development.

Charleston Population Growth

Charleston is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The greater Charleston area has one of the highest growth rates in America as more people move from surrounding counties to enjoy the city's rapidly improving economy. According to new census estimates, the Charleston MSA (or the Tri-County Area) was the 12th fastest-growing metro area in the U.S.

By 2020, Charleston County was previously projected to have a population of 371,000, but these new estimates show the county has likely already hit this mark.

Charleston Demographics

According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Charleston was:

  • White: 73.76%
  • Black or African American: 22.39%
  • Asian: 1.91%
  • Two or more races: 1.53%
  • Other race: 0.34%
  • Native American: 0.08%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.00%

How Many People Live in Charleston, South Carolina?

136,208
Year Population Growth Annual Growth Rate
2018136,2084630.34%
2017135,7451,1250.84%
2016134,6201,9881.50%
2015132,6322,9782.30%
2014129,6542,1981.72%
2013127,4562,0281.62%
2012125,4282,2261.81%
2011123,2022,2911.89%
2010120,91124,2612.26%
200096,65016,2361.86%
199080,41410,6351.43%
198069,7792,8340.42%
197066,9451,0200.15%
196065,925-4,249-0.62%
195070,174-1,101-0.16%
194071,2759,0101.36%
193062,265-5,692-0.87%
192067,9579,1241.45%
191058,8333,0260.53%
190055,8078520.15%
189054,9554,9710.95%
188049,9841,0280.21%
187048,9568,4341.91%
186040,522-2,463-0.59%
185042,98513,7243.92%
184029,261-1,028-0.34%
183030,2895,5092.03%
182024,780690.03%
181024,7115,8872.76%
180018,8242,4651.41%
179016,3590.00%
Year Total Population Growth Annual Growth Rate
2018787,64312,5541.59%
2017775,08913,6071.76%
2016761,48216,2942.14%
2015745,18818,3512.46%
2014726,83715,5712.14%
2013711,26614,4712.03%
2012696,79515,6212.24%
2011681,17413,7342.02%
2010667,4400.00%

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
White98,66073.76%
Black or African American29,94522.39%
Asian2,5551.91%
Two or More Races2,0431.53%
Some Other Race4490.34%
American Indian and Alaska Native1100.08%

Charleston Population Pyramid 2020

Charleston Median Age

34.7


Total

33.6


Male

36.4


Female

Charleston Adults

There are 111,350 adults, (18,939 of whom are seniors) in Charleston.

Charleston Age Dependency

44.7

Age Dependency Ratio

20.5

Old Age Dependency Ratio

24.3

Child Dependency Ratio

Charleston Sex Ratio

Female

70,044

52.36%

Male

63,718

47.64%

Charleston Households and Families

Charleston Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

Charleston Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Married77.8%22.2%
All55.1%44.9%
Male48.4%51.6%
Female43.8%56.2%
Non Family39.5%60.5%

55.1%

Rate of Home Ownership

Type Count Average Size Owned
All55,0132.3255.1
Non Family26,0741.5139.5
Married21,4022.9277.8
Female6,1053.4643.8
Male1,4323.3348.4

2.99

Average Family Size

2.32

Average Household Size

5.9%

Unmarried (Opposite Sex)

0.3%

Unmarried (Same Sex)

Charleston Education

Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade1,2771.36%
9th to 12th Grade3,7704.02%
High School Graduate16,45017.55%
Some College15,80516.87%
Associates Degree7,6448.16%
Bachelors Degree30,79832.87%
Graduate Degree17,96619.17%

Charleston Educational Attainment by Race

Name Total High School Bachelors
White68,29066,51541,621
Black20,13417,2594,341
Hispanic2,4142,2431,056
Asian2,0071,8431,383
Multiple Races848818342
Other Race319261182
Native American78726

The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 97.40%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 68.91%.

Name Average Male Female
Overall$43,173$50,062$38,651
Less Than High School$18,261$21,838$15,224
High School Grad$27,867$30,841$24,144
Some College$36,428$41,138$31,254
Bachelors Degree$51,418$56,376$44,638
Graduate Degree$61,350$78,169$53,489

$43,173

Average Earnings

$50,062

Average Male

$38,651

Average Female

Charleston Language

Charleston Language by Age

Charleston Language

94.70% of Charleston residents speak only English, while 5.30% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 1.94% of the population.

Charleston Poverty

Charleston Poverty by Race

Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate
White91,0738,9079.78%
Black29,0458,18328.17%
Multiple1,76845725.85%
Hispanic3,79345311.94%
Asian2,38333714.14%
Other4485111.38%
Native893539.33%

14.29%

Overall Poverty Rate

12.90%

Male Poverty Rate

15.51%

Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in Charleston

The race most likely to be in poverty in Charleston is Native, with 39.33% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in Charleston is White, with 9.78% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 2.64%. Among those working part-time, it was 23.77%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 25.85%.

Name Poverty
Less Than High School27.02%
High School15.20%
Some College9.83%
Bachelors or Greater5.17%
Name Poverty
Female Unemployed47.37%
Male Unemployed31.75%
Female Employed9.72%
Male Employed5.36%

Charleston Income

Charleston Income by Household Type

Name Median Mean
Households$64,599$93,367
Families$89,821$122,843
Married Families$106,380$143,901
Non Families$44,637$59,045

Charleston Marital Status

Charleston Marital Status

Marriage Rates

40.8%

Overall Marriage Rate

43.1%

Male Marriage Rate

38.7%

Female Marriage Rate

Charleston Married by Age and Sex

Charleston Marriage

The age group where males are most likely to be married is Over 65, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.

Charleston Marital Status by Race

Charleston Veterans

9,189

Number of Veterans

8,143

Male Veterans

1,046

Female Veterans

War Veterans
Vietnam3,340
First Gulf War2,257
Second Gulf War2,133
Korea650
World War II290
Age Group Veterans
65 to 742,445
35 to 542,160
55 to 641,754
75+1,663
18 to 341,167

Charleston Veterans by Race

Name Veterans % of Total
White6,6828.02%
Black2,34410.01%
Hispanic1294.23%
2 or More1068.20%
Asian512.27%
Indian66.06%

Charleston Veterans by Education

9.96%

Veteran Poverty Rate

21.67%

Veteran Disability Rate

Charleston Employment Status

67.8%

Labor Force Participation

64.5%

Employment Rate

4.1%

Unemployment Rate

Charleston Place of Birth

Origin of Non Citizens

Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.

Origin of Naturalized Citizens

48.54%

Born in South Carolina

95.54%

Native Born

4.46%

Foreign Born

2.32%

Non Citizen

Place of Birth

95.54% of Charleston residents were born in the United States, with 48.54% having been born in South Carolina. 2.32% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Asia.