Kentucky Population 2021

4,480,713
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Previously a part of Virginia, Kentucky became its own territory and became the 15th state in the US Union in 1792. From those early beginnings it has grown to become the 26th largest state in terms of population. Kentucky currently has a population growth rate of 0.47%, which ranks 34th among the US states.

Kentucky Area and Population Density

Kentucky's population density is currently 109.9 people per square mile, and the state's total population has grown every decade since figures were first recorded. Still, most decades during the 20th century have seen a net out-migration from Kentucky, and rural counties have experienced a loss while urban areas have gained in population. Interestingly, the urban versus rural population of Kentucky remains fairly equal, although poverty is far more rampant in the rural areas of the state.

Kentucky is fairly densely filled and from a total surface area of 40,409 square miles, (104,659 square kilometers), there is an average of around 110 people per square mile, or 42.5 per square kilometer. This makes Kentucky the 22nd most densely populated state in the US.

The largest city in Kentucky by population is Louisville. The largest county in Kentucky by population is Jefferson County.

Kentucky Gender and Religion Statistics

The median age in the state of Kentucky is approximately 38.6 years of age, with a slight gender majority of 50.8% females and 49.2% males residing in the state.

In terms of religious preferences over the state, Kentucky comes in with 76% Christian based faiths, 2% non-Christian faiths, and 22% unaffiliated to any faith.

Kentucky Boundary, Census, and Statehood History

Kentucky was part of Virginia prior to its admission as a State on June 1, 1792. It had essentially its present boundaries, except that because of erroneous surveys portions of the Kentucky-Tennessee boundary were in dispute for many years until finally resurveyed in 1859.

Kentucky was reported separately from Virginia in 1790; the county boundaries at that time corresponded to the present-day State lines between Kentucky and Virginia-West Virginia. Census coverage in 1790 included much of the State's territory, but the area west of the Tennessee River (the Jackson Purchase) was first enumerated in 1820.

Kentucky Demographics

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

  • White: 86.95%
  • Black or African American: 8.07%
  • Two or more races: 2.25%
  • Asian: 1.47%
  • Other race: 0.98%
  • Native American: 0.21%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.07%

Kentucky Population History

Although Kentucky was incorporated into the United States in 1792, population figures are available from the 1790 Census, and at the time, it was revealed that 73,677 people were living in the state.

Like most areas of the US, Kentucky was undergoing a population explosion in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and by the time the next Census was undertaken in 1800, those numbers had grown by nearly 200% to 220,955.

That was by far the largest population spike, but significant increases carried on throughout the 1800s and by the time of the 1900 Census, the Kentucky population had grown to 2,147,174.

The 20th century continued to produce healthy rises through the present day, where the Kentucky population of 2016 is starting to nudge the 4.5 million mark.

Kentucky Population Growth

In 2006, figures were released with regards to natural growth and the impact that it had on the population of Kentucky. These figures showed that in the six years following the 2000 Census, there had been an increase in numbers of 77,156 people: a figure that is derived from 287,222 births less 210,066 deaths and an increase following net migration of 59,604.

Kentucky Population Projections

The population of Kentucky is rising, even if it isn’t at such a spectacular rate as some parts of the country. There is, however, no reason to suggest that this trend won’t continue. While some counties are experiencing a decline in growth, some counties are growing at a rate over 40%, including Spencer, Scott and Boone counties. Since 2000, more than one-third of the growth in the state has occurred in the Louisville area, and this is expected to continue.

The Kentucky population is projected to reach 4.6 million by the 2020 Census and will nearly surpass the 5 million mark a decade later. By 2050, it's estimated that Kentucky will have a total population of 5.3 million.

Kentucky Racial Diversity

African Americans previously made up 25% of the population in Kentucky prior to the Civil War, but their numbers declined as many moved to the more industrial North. 44.2% of African-Americans in Kentucky are located in Jefferson County, while 52% are in the Louisville Metro Area.

While Kentucky's Hispanic population places it in the bottom 10 states in the United States, it has seen significant increases in recent years. Between the 2000 and 2010 Censuses, the state recorded a Hispanic population growth of over 121%, the 4th highest increase in the US during this time period.

Kentucky's population of Native Americans is less than 1% of the total population, but groups including the Ridgetop Shawnee have joined together to raise awareness of the population of Native Americans in the state, which is estimated to be over 20,000. See the race chart for more.

Kentucky Growth Rate

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Kentucky Population Rank

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Kentucky Population 2021

  • The first permanent settlement in the state of Kentucky was in Harrodsburg in 1774. It was settled by American pioneer James Harrod.
  • Just one year later, in 1775, Daniel Boone founded Boonesboro.
  • Prior to being settled, Shawnee and Cherokee Indians used the land that is now Kentucky as hunting grounds.
  • The song "Happy Birthday to You" is generally attributed to two sisters (a kindergarten teacher and a pianist/composer) in Louisville in 1893.
  • Fort Knox is the site of the largest amount of stored gold, holding $6 billion worth in its underground vaults.
  • More than half of the Americans killed in the War of 1812 were from Kentucky.
  • The world's longest known cave system, Mammoth Cave, is the second-oldest tourist attraction in the US.

Kentucky Facts

Some of Kentucky's counties have exhibited significant growth since the 2010 Census. According to 2015 US Census Bureau estimates, Scott County posted the highest growth rate percentage at 10.48%. Shelby County, located to the west, saw similar high growth at 7.94%. Further south, Warren County reflected growth of over 7%, the third highest in the state. Other counties that exhibited growth include Madison, Bath, and Boone, although there are many other counties that also grew between 2010 and 2015.

Data also shows that some counties showed declining growth rates. With a -12.84% growth rate, Lee County saw the biggest decline during the 5-year period. Other counties, primarily located in the southeastern corner of the state, also reflected negative growth, including the counties of Harlon, Leslie, and Floyd.

Kentucky Population Growth Rate by County

Kentucky Population Density by County

Population by Race

Race Population Percentage
White3,868,47986.95%
Black or African American358,9288.07%
Two or More Races100,2852.25%
Asian65,1911.47%
Some Other Race43,6010.98%
American Indian and Alaska Native9,3860.21%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander3,1820.07%
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Kentucky Population by Race

Kentucky Population Pyramid $2021

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Kentucky Median Age

39


Total

38


Male

40


Female

Kentucky Adults

There are 3,439,746 adults, (710,138 of whom are seniors) in Kentucky.

Kentucky Age Dependency

63

Age Dependency Ratio

26

Old Age Dependency Ratio

37

Child Dependency Ratio

Kentucky Sex Ratio

Female

2,258,130

50.76%

Male

2,190,922

49.24%

Kentucky Population by Age

Kentucky Renter vs Owner Occupied by Household Type

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Kentucky Household Types

Type Owner Renter
Married83%17%
All67%33%
Male57%43%
Non Family54%46%
Female48%52%

67.0%

Rate of Home Ownership

Kentucky Households and Families

Type Count Average Size Owned
All1,734,618267
Married837,020383
Non Family598,783154
Female213,741348
Male85,074357

3

Average Family Size

2

Average Household Size

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Kentucky Households by Type

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Education Attained Count Percentage
Less Than 9th Grade166,4125.51%
9th to 12th Grade248,3728.23%
High School Graduate993,09832.89%
Some College628,99320.83%
Associates Degree251,1368.32%
Bachelors Degree428,84614.20%
Graduate Degree302,23610.01%
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Kentucky Educational Attainment by Sex (over 25)

Kentucky Educational Attainment by Race

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Race Total High School Bachelors
White2,635,3162,286,952646,558
Black223,886193,00838,237
Hispanic80,87156,78115,300
Asian42,00035,50922,006
2+ Races32,93428,8858,515
Other Race22,48412,6732,723
Native American6,5715,256965
Islander1,7891,536328

The highest rate of high school graduation is among 2+ races people with a rate of 87.71%.

The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 52.40%.

Kentucky Educational Attainment by Race

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Name Average Male Female
Overall$36,832$42,921$30,924
Less Than 9th Grade$21,778$25,562$16,812
High School Graduate$30,445$36,190$23,266
Some College$34,220$43,297$28,397
Bachelors Degree$49,743$59,436$42,075
Graduate Degree$58,942$72,541$53,915

$36,832

Average Earnings

$42,921

Average Male

$30,924

Average Female

Kentucky Earnings by Educational Attainment

Kentucky Language by Age

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Kentucky Language

94.37% of Kentucky residents speak only English, while 5.63% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 2.74% of the population.

Kentucky Language

Kentucky Poverty by Race

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Name Total In Poverty Poverty Rate
White3,654,963577,81015.81%
Black338,66594,28327.84%
Hispanic156,64541,96426.79%
Multiple95,33725,40726.65%
Other41,39512,89631.15%
Asian63,9189,10614.25%
Native8,8942,25625.37%
Islander3,01554017.91%

17.33%

Overall Poverty Rate

15.65%

Male Poverty Rate

18.95%

Female Poverty Rate

Poverty in Kentucky

The race most likely to be in poverty in Kentucky is Other, with 31.15% below the poverty level.

The race least likely to be in poverty in Kentucky is Asian, with 14.25% below the poverty level.

The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.21%. Among those working part-time, it was 20.74%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 26.45%.

Kentucky Poverty

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Name Poverty
Less Than 9th Grade32.83%
High School16.18%
Some College11.87%
Bachelors or Greater4.37%

Kentucky Poverty Rate by Education

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Rate Poverty
Female Unemployed43.55%
Male Unemployed33.71%
Female Employed9.11%
Male Employed6.40%

Kentucky Poverty Rate by Employment Status and Sex

Kentucky Income by Household Type

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Name Median Mean
Households$50,589$70,144
Families$63,684$83,043
Married Families$76,922$96,565
Non Families$29,385$42,778
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Income by Household Type

Kentucky Marital Status

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Marriage Rates

49.0%

Overall Marriage Rate

51.0%

Male Marriage Rate

48.0%

Female Marriage Rate

Kentucky Married by Age and Sex

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Kentucky 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 45-54.

Kentucky Marital Status by Race

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Kentucky Marital Status

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267,594

Number of Veterans

245,918

Male Veterans

21,676

Female Veterans

War Veterans
Vietnam99,082
First Gulf War56,326
Second Gulf War48,265
Korea18,322
World War II7,290

Kentucky Veterans by War

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Age Group Veterans
65 to 7474,300
35 to 5466,698
75+54,417
55 to 6450,372
18 to 3421,807

Kentucky Veterans by Age

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Name Veterans % of Total
White237,5407.85%
Black23,8928.98%
Hispanic4,7034.78%
2+ Races3,4037.27%
Native American1,04114.22%
Asian7371.52%
Other Race6642.44%
Islander31714.72%

Kentucky Veterans by Race

Kentucky Veterans by Education

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8.41%

Veteran Poverty Rate

33.41%

Veteran Disability Rate

Kentucky Veterans by Education

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59%

Labor Force Participation

56%

Employment Rate

6%

Unemployment Rate

Kentucky Employment by Age

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Kentucky Employment by Race

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Kentucky Employment by Education

Origin of Non-Citizens

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

Origin of Naturalized Citizens

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68.94%

Born in Kentucky

96.13%

Native Born

3.87%

Foreign Born

2.32%

Non Citizen

1.54%

Naturalized

Place of Birth

96.13% of Kentucky residents were born in the United States, with 68.94% having been born in Kentucky. 2.32% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.

Kentucky Place of Birth

  1. Kentucky State Data Center
  2. US Census State Population Estimates - Most recent state estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  3. US Census County Population Estimates - Most recent county estimates from the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program
  4. American Community Survey (2009 - 2013)
  5. Census QuickFacts
  6. Historical Populations of States and Counties (1790 - 1990)

Sources