The last official census in the United States of America was carried out in 2010, when the population was calculated as 2,915,918, making Arkansas the 32nd largest state in the US. When the official Census estimates were released for 2015, Arkansas' total had grown by just over 60,000 people to 2,978,204. Its 2016 growth rate of 0.38% makes it the 29th fastest growing state in the USA.
Arkansas’ population provides some fairly unremarkable figures in terms of population density, in keeping with its status as one of the middle ranked states in terms of population numbers.
The surface area of the state is 53,179 square miles (137,733 square kilometers), and based on the 2010 Census population, that equated to 56 people in every square mile of Arkansas land. Overall, this would mean that the state is the 34th highest in terms of population density.
A population estimate in 2006 showed that there had been a net gain in numbers of 52,214 from the 2000 Census due to natural growth. This took into account the birth rate against the death rate and a further rise in numbers due to net migration.
The median age is 36 in Arkansas. Nearly 75% of the population is over eighteen years of age. Approximately 51% of the Arkansas population is female, with 49% male population.
The religions within Arkansas stand at 79% Christian based faiths, 3% non-Christian faith, and 18% unaffiliated.
Arkansas was acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and was included in Louisiana Territory, established in 1805 and comprising the whole of the Louisiana Purchase north of present-day Louisiana. Arkansas (then spelled Arkansaw) became a territory in 1819 and at first included most of present-day Oklahoma; in 1828 it reached essentially its present boundaries, although the boundary with Texas was incorrectly interpreted at that time. Arkansas was admitted as a State on June 15, 1836.
In 1810, census coverage of Louisiana Territory was limited to portions of present-day Arkansas and Missouri, mainly close to the Mississippi River. The 1810 census was reported by districts; the total for 1810 is for Arkansas District, which was entirely within present-day Arkansas. New Madrid District, which included the northern part of present-day Arkansas, was mainly in Missouri. In 1820 census coverage included much of the present State and a small number of people in present-day Oklahoma and Texas. By 1830 census coverage included the whole of Arkansas, and also included (in old Miller County) a portion of today's Texas.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Arkansas was:
The census history of the United States as a whole reflects the huge rise in population since the beginning of the 19th century. Arkansas is certainly no exception to this rule.
In 1810, the population in the state was a mere 1,062, but by the next census in 1820, things were starting to move considerably. The final numbers were declared at 14,273 -- an incredible rise of 1,244% in just ten years. From this point until 1940, the population grew consistently as net immigration played a huge part in the growth of the state.
From 1940 to 1960, Arkansas saw consecutive declines in their Census counts, due mostly to World War II, and post-war migration. After 1960, Arkansas resumed it's relatively high level of growth until 2010. During this 50 year period, Arkansas saw an annualized growth rate of just over 1%. The most recent estimates suggest this pace has slowed since 2012.
If the state maintains its current growth rate, it should comfortably exceed 3 million residents by the time the 2020 Census is held. According to estimates, the 2020 population could grow as high as 3.2 million, although an estimate of 3.03 million is more in line with the current growth rate.
Arkansas ranks 12th among all states in terms of the size of its African American population. According to the 2010 US Census, the total population identifying as Black or Native American was rising close to half a million residents. This portion of the population primary resides in the southern and eastern regions of the state, while European Americans comprise the majority of the central region, as well as the northwestern Ozarks.
Arkansas has seen stready population growth among other races through the years, recording a 114% increase in the Hispanic and Latino population and a 251% increase in the population of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander residents between the census held in 2000 and one held in 2010. According to data from 2011, 39% of children under the age of 1 were classified as minorities.
The largest ancestry groups in the state include African American, Irish, German, English, anf French. There are many descendents from Europeans that settled in Arkansas before it became a state that reside in Arkansas.
Arkansas has seen both increases and decreases across its counties from the time of the 2010 Census until the US Census Bureau's estimates in 2015. Four counties saw significant increases, with the northeastern county of Benton seeing the highest increase in population by 11.96%. Washington County, located directly south of Benton County, posted growth of 10.51%. In the center of the state, Saline County had 9.09% growth during the 5-year period, while Craighead County in the northeastern region of Arkansas had growth of 7.89%. Faulkner County and Lonoke County saw smaller, yet still respectable growth, while other counties that grew include White County and Greene County.
Just as there has been population growth, some Arkansas counties have seen decreases in population between 2010 and 2015. All but two counties located along the eastern border have seen declines in population. This includes Phillips County (9.95% decrease), Desha County (7.71% decrease), and Lee County (6.98% decrease.) Sevier County and Scott County along the western border saw negative growth, as well as Lafayette County to the south, amongst others.
Black or African American
Two or more races
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Average Family Size
Average Household Size
Rate of Home Ownership
Less Than 9th Grade
9th to 12th Grade
High School Graduate
High School Graduation Rate
The highest rate of high school graduation is among white people with a rate of 78.45%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 39.14%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
92.33% of Arkansas residents speak only English, while 7.67% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 5.51% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Arkansas is Islander, with 28.46% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Arkansas is Asian, with 10.84% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.54%. Among those working part-time, it was 19.52%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 23.69%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
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 45-54.
Second Gulf War
First Gulf War
World War II
Less Than 9th Grade
High School Graduate
Bachelors or Greater
Veteran Poverty Rate
Veteran Disability Rate
Labor Force Participation
Non citizens include legal permanent residents (green card holders), international students, temporary workers, humanitarian migrants, and illegal immigrants.
Born in Arkansas
97.76% of Arkansas residents were born in the United States, with 62.97% having been born in Arkansas. 3.35% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.