Milwaukee Population 2017

Milwaukee is a very slowly growing city with a population estimated at 600,155 in 2016. Despite very strong growth through the 1950s, Milwaukee has experienced negative growth since then, and it's only since the 2010 census that signs of growth have been evident, although growth has been small.

The Milwaukee metropolitan area is home to approximately 1.57 million people in 2016. 30% of the entire state's population lives in the 5-country metropolitan area, with 10% of Wisconsin's population within the Milwaukee city limits.

Milwaukee Demographics

At the 2010 US Census, the racial breakdown of Milwaukee was:

  • White: 44.8% (non-Hispanic: 37%)
  • African American: 40.0%
  • Asian: 3.5%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.8%
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Two or more races: 3.4%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 17.3%

38.3% of Milwaukee's population reports having African American ancestry, while 21% claim German ancestry. Other common ancestry groups in the city include Polish (8.8%), Irish (6.5%), Italian (3.6%) and English (2.8%).

The city of Milwaukee seems diverse, but the picture changes when you look at the county as a whole. Milwaukee County's population is 55% white, and the county's African American population is 27%. Only about 8% of the county's African American population lives outside the city limits.

Milwaukee is often seen as a very racially segregated city; some consider it the most segregated city in the country, along with Detroit, Michigan, including a 2002 issue of Jet Magazine.

Milwaukee History

The Milwaukee area was originally inhabited by several Native American tribes, with French traders and missionaries first passing though the region in the late 17th century. A trading post was established in 1785 by Alexis Laframboise. It's believed the word Milwaukee comes from either a Potawatomi or Ojibwe word meaning "gathering place by the water." For many years, the settlement's name was printed as "Milwaukie," until a newspaper changed it to its current spelling sometime in the 1830s.

In its early history, Milwaukee had a great rivalry with two neighboring towns, Juneautown, across the river, and Walker's Point. By the 1840s, the rivalry had grown and there were battles between the town, culminating in the Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845. Afterward, the towns were united and, in 1846, the City of Milwaukee was incorporated.

Milwaukee began to grow rapidly with an influx of immigrants, especially those from Germany who made their way here from Wisconsin. Milwaukee continued its rapid growth, reaching a height of 741,000 in 1960 before beginning a 5-decade decline.

Current State of Milwaukee

Milwaukee currently ranks 4th among major cities in the US in terms of children living in poverty at 43%. Milwaukee's unemployment rate is the same as the national average, and its jobs market does show signs of stability and even improvement. The city has also started to attract college graduates, 80% of whom moved to Milwaukee because they got a job. Revitalization efforts in the downtown area have been used to attract residents to the area and encourage growth and development.

Milwaukee Population Growth

Milwaukee is a very slowly growing city, with its modest growth mostly concentrated in the neighborhoods around downtown. From 2011 to 2013, Milwaukee added only 4,000 people. While this doesn't sound like a lot, and it isn't, it does show that Milwaukee's experiencing a turnaround after almost 5 decades of decline. The growth in the downtown areas have been largely attributed to new construction of condos and apartments, and most of the new residents are younger adults.

It's still too soon to tell if the population growth trend in Milwaukee will continue and the city will be able to post positive growth at the next census in 2020, but signs are good Milwaukee has at least partially overcome the slump of the last fifty years.

Year Population Change
2015 600,155 0.90%
2010 594,833 -0.40%
2000 596,974 -5.00%
1990 628,088 -1.30%
1980 636,297 -11.30%
1970 717,372 -3.20%
1960 741,324 16.30%
1950 637,392 8.50%
1940 587,472 1.60%
1930 578,249 26.50%
1920 457,147 22.30%
1910 373,857 31.00%
1900 285,315 39.50%
1890 204,468 76.90%
1880 115,587 61.80%
1870 71,440 57.90%
1860 45,246 125.50%
1850 20,061 1080.10%
1840 1,700 0.00%

Milwaukee Population in 2017 Source:

Milwaukee Race Data

Race Population Percentage
White 281,218 47.02%
Black or African American 234,784 39.26%
American Indian and Alaska Native 3,263 0.55%
Asian 22,193 3.71%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 204 0.03%
Some Other Race 34,557 5.78%
Two or More Races 21,859 3.65%

Population Pyramid

Milwaukee Housing Indicators

Indicator Value
Total Housing Units 257,952
Owner-Occupied Units 97,606
Renter-Occupied Units 133,201
Median Home Value $118,200
Median Rent $786
Vacancy Rate 10.5%
Houses With Mortgage 68,141
Houses Without Mortgage 29,465
Median Number of Rooms (per House) 4.9

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Milwaukee for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 7.7% and the labor force participation rate is 65.2%.

Milwaukee Family/Household Indicators

Indicator Value
Average Household Size 2.52
Average Family Size 3.36
Married Couple Families 63,998
Male Householder (no wife) Families 14,152
Female Householder (no husband) Families 50,567
Non Family Households
Unmarried Partner Households (Opposite Sex) 7.8%
Unmarried Partner Households (Same Sex) 0.5%