Des Moines Population 2017

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 Change
2015 210,330 3.40%
2010 203,433 2.40%
2000 198,682 2.80%
1990 193,187 1.10%
1980 191,003 -5.20%
1970 201,404 -3.60%
1960 208,982 17.40%
1950 177,965 11.40%
1940 159,819 12.10%
1930 142,559 12.70%
1920 126,468 46.40%
1910 86,368 39.00%
1900 62,139 24.00%
1890 50,093 123.50%
1880 22,408 86.20%
1870 12,035 203.50%
1860 3,965 0.00%

Des Moines Population in 2017 Source: Carol M. Highsmith

Des Moines Race Data

Race Population Percentage
White 160,296 77.55%
Black or African American 22,551 10.91%
American Indian and Alaska Native 813 0.39%
Asian 10,399 5.03%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 204 0.10%
Some Other Race 5,668 2.74%
Two or More Races 6,771 3.28%

Population Pyramid

Des Moines Housing Indicators

Indicator Value
Total Housing Units 89,296
Owner-Occupied Units 49,826
Renter-Occupied Units 31,891
Median Home Value $117,800
Median Rent $754
Vacancy Rate 8.5%
Houses With Mortgage 35,197
Houses Without Mortgage 14,629
Median Number of Rooms (per House) 5.1

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
Average Household Size 2.48
Average Family Size 3.17
Married Couple Families 31,775
Male Householder (no wife) Families 4,439
Female Householder (no husband) Families 12,488
Non Family Households
Unmarried Partner Households (Opposite Sex) 7.4%
Unmarried Partner Households (Same Sex) 0.4%