Des Moines Population 2018

Des Moines is the capital and most populous city of Iowa. The city is named for the Des Moines River and it's located where the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers meet. The city is important in United States presidential politics and frequently tops lists as one of the best cities for business and living.

Des Moines has an estimated population of 209,000 people, up from 203,000 in 2010. This means Des Moines ranks 104th in the United States in terms of population, with a density of 2,517 people per square mile or 972 per square kilometer. The five-county metropolitan region has an estimated population of 590,000 and ranks 88th in the country.

Des Moines Demographics

At the 2010 census, the racial composition of Des Moines was:

  • White: 76.4% (non-Hispanic: 70.5%)
  • African American: 10.2%
  • Asian: 4.4% (1.2% Vietnamese, 0.9% Laotian, 0.4% Burmese, 0.3% Asian Indian, 0.3% Thai, 0.2% Chinese, 0.2% Cambodian, 0.2% Filipino, 0.1% Hmong, 0.1% Nepalese, 0.1% Korean)
  • Native American: 0.5%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Other races: 5.0%
  • Two or more races: 3.4%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 12.0% (9.4% Mexican, 0.7% Salvadoran, 0.3% Guatemalan, 0.3% Puerto Rican, 0.1% Ecuadorian, 0.1% Honduran, 0.1% Spaniard, 0.1% Cuban, 0.1% Spanish)

The Hispanic population has grown dramatically, up from 6.61% of the population in 20000. The most common European ancestry groups are: German (20.9%), Irish (10.3%), American (9.1%), and English (8.0%).

Des Moines has an unemployment rate of just 4.6% -- lower than the national average -- with a cost of living that is 8.1% below the national average.

Des Moines Population Growth

Since 2010, three-quarters of the population growth in Iowa has been concentrated in just 10 cities, most of which are in the central part of the state. The largest population growth in the last four years has been seen in Des Moines and Ames. The cities with the highest growth, in order, are: Ankeny, West Des Moines, Iowa City and Des Moines.

In 2012, the population of Des Moines grew by an estimated 1.6% from 2010, compared to 0.91% for the state as a whole and 0.58% for the Midwest.

Des Moines History

Des Moines has been occupied by humans for at least 7,000 years, with many prehistoric occupation areas in present-day downtown Des Moines. There were also about 18 prehistoric American Indian mounds in the downtown area seen by early settlers, although all were destroyed.

The City of Des Moines traces its start to 1843, when Captain James Allen oversaw the construction of a fort where the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers meet. While he wanted to name it Fort Raccoon, the War Department had him name it Fort Des Moines. The fort was constructed to control nearby Indians, who were transplanted to the area from their lands in the eastern part of the state. In 1846, the fort was abandoned when the Meskwaki and Sauk Indians were removed from the state.

Settlers took over the abandoned fort and surrounding areas. By 1846, Fort Des Moines became the seat of Polk County, although a great deal of the town was destroyed by the Flood of 1851, when the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers rose.

In 1851, Des Moines was incorporated and renamed to just Des Moines 6 years later as the state capital was moved to the city from Iowa City. Growth eventually exploded once a railroad link was finished in 1866. By 1900, Des Moines was the largest city in the state with 62,100 people, which was more than 97% white and less than 3% black.

Des Moines Facts

  • Des Moines was named for the Des Moines River, which is possibly adapted from the French Rivière des Moines, or "River of the Monks."
  • Des Moines is a center for the insurance industry in the United States and it was ranked the 3rd largest insurance capital in the world.
  • In 2010, the "Palace," a 7,000-year-old site, was discovered at the new wastewater treatment plant in Des Moines with intact house deposits and graves.
  • The National Bar Association was founded in Des Moines in 1925.
  • The Iowa Caucus is the first step in the presidential candidate nomination for Democrats and Republicans. During this time, international media falls onto the metropolitan area.
  • The University of Iowa was the first public university in the United States to admit women alongside men.
  • Over 80,000 people go downtown to work each week day, which is one of the highest rates per capita in the country.
Year Population Growth Growth Rate

Des Moines Population in 2018Source: Carol M. Highsmith

Des Moines Race Data

Race Population Percentage
Black or African American22,85710.61%
Two or More Races6,7383.13%
Some Other Race5,0372.34%
American Indian and Alaska Native9790.45%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander1770.08%

Population Pyramid

0k0k0k0k0k Male Population0k0k0k0k0k Female Population8580757065605550454035302520151050

Des Moines Housing Indicators

Indicator Value
Median Number of Rooms (per House)
Houses Without Mortgage
Houses With Mortgage
Vacancy Rate
Median Rent
Median Home Value
Renter-Occupied Units
Owner-Occupied Units
Total Housing Units

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Des Moines for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 5.7% and the labor force participation rate is 70.5%.

Des Moines Family/Household Indicators

Indicator Value
Unmarried Partner Households (Same Sex)
Unmarried Partner Households (Opposite Sex)
Non Family Households
Female Householder (no husband) Families
Male Householder (no wife) Families
Married Couple Families
Average Family Size
Average Household Size