Wisconsin is part of the Great Lakes region of the country, located in the northern Midwest. With a surface area of around 65,497.82 square miles, it is a relatively large state with a population to match -- it is the 23rd biggest state in the country, and in terms of population, it is the 20th most populous state in the US. The state currently has a growth rate of 0.35%, which ranks 39th in the state.
Within the surface area of 65,497.82 miles, there is an average of 105 people for every square mile of Wisconsin land. That figure converts to 39.6 people for every square kilometer and it makes Wisconsin the 23rd most densely populated state in the entire US.
The state's biggest city by far is Milwaukee, with a population exceeding 600,000. This is followed by Madison (pop 248,000), Green Bay (pop 105,207) and Kenosha (pop 99,858). The Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis Metropolitan Statistical Area has an estimated population of 1.55 million.
The state's most populated counties are Milwaukee and Dane counties, with respective populations of 952,085 and 536,416.
The median age of the population residing in the state of Wisconsin is approximately 39.1 years of age. In terms of the ratio of females to males, females lead at 50.3% with males at 49.7% of the population.
In terms of preferred religions across the population of Wisconsin, 71% are affiliated with Christian based faiths, 4% are affiliated with non-Christian faiths, and 25% are not affiliated with any faith in particular.
Wisconsin was part of the Northwest Territory organized in 1787, then of Indiana Territory (1800). In 1809 it was included in the new Illinois Territory, except for the northern part of the Door Peninsula, which remained in Indiana Territory. In 1818 Michigan Territory expanded to include the whole of present-day Wisconsin. Wisconsin Territory was organized in 1836 and briefly included all of Minnesota and Iowa and the Dakotas east of the Missouri River. After Iowa Territory was organized in 1838, only northeastern Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River and a line from its source north to the Canadian boundary, remained in Wisconsin Territory. Wisconsin was admitted as a State on May 29, 1848 with essentially its present boundaries.
There was only limited census coverage of the present area of the State prior to 1840. In 1790 the Northwest Territory had no census coverage. The 1800 census for Indiana Territory reported populations for Green Bay (50) and Prairie du Chien (65); in 1810 any settlers enumerated in these or other Wisconsin communities were reported as part of St. Clair County, Illinois Territory. In 1820 Crawford and Brown Counties, Michigan Territory, included nearly all of present-day Wisconsin; Crawford also included northeastern Minnesota but this had no census coverage. This also was the case in 1830, with the addition of Iowa County from part of Crawford. In 1840 some persons in northeastern Minnesota were enumerated in St. Croix County, Wisconsin Territory.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Wisconsin was:
In 1820, Wisconsin’s population figures stood at a mere 1,444, but like in many areas of the US in the early 19th century, an explosion in numbers was just over the horizon. Just ten years later, a rise of over 150% took those figures to 3,635.
However, the biggest population spike came between the years of 1840 and 1850 when an incredible increase of nearly 154% took the population of Wisconsin from 305,391 to 775,881. Although the increases began to slow down, the overall picture was one of growth and by the start of the 20th century, numbers were recorded at 2,069,042.
That pattern continued through the 20th century and as census by census growth started to settle down, the numbers grew at a steady pace. As a result, the population of Wisconsin in 2016 is starting to climb toward the next milestone of 6 million.
Population growth in Wisconsin has been steady and as such, this is one of the easier states to predict in terms of further increases than some of the states that have seen both increases and decreases in their populations.
Wisconsin considers itself a very immigrant-friendly area, and many semiskilled people are able to find work in the state in a relatively short amount of time. In fact, a considerable number of refugees and asylum-seekers come to Wisconsin after being turned down elsewhere.
There is nothing to suggest that the pattern of Wisconsin population growth is going to slow down, and therefore, by the time of the next census in 2020, it is possible that the Wisconsin population will have exceeded its next major landmark of 6 million people.
Projections currently show Wisconsin will reach 6.375 million residents by 2030, growing 19.5% between 2000 and 2030. The amount of senior citizens in the state is expected to climb from its current 13% to 21% by that time. 70 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are projected to grow over the next 20 years, although not at a fast pace.
[Wisconsin's largest ancestry groups](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin) include: German (42.6%), Irish (10.9%), Polish (9.3%), Norwegian (8.5%) and English (6.5%). Wisconsin has more people of Polish ancestry than any other state in terms of percentage. The Norwegian population originally settled in the farming and lumbering areas, while African Americans came to the state from the 1940s on. Interestingly, Menominee County is the only county on the eastern part of the country with an American Indian majority population.
About 86% of Wisconsin's African American population lives in Kenosha, Beloit, Racine and Milwaukee. Only Detroit and Cleveland have higher percentages of African Americans in the Great Lakes region of the United States. In terms of the state's Asian American and African American population, the state falls squarely in the middle when compared to other states, ranking 26th and 30th out of 50, respectively.
The state of Wisconsin has many counties, and of these counties, significant population losses and gains have been recorded based on 2010 data from the Census and estimates taken by the Census Bureau in 2015. This data shows that the highest gain in population was recorded in Menominee County, with a population growth rate of 7.22% during the 5-year period. Dane County's 7.04% growth rate was the 2nd highest in the state. There were multiple other counties that posted growth in populations from 2010 to 2015, albeit at smaller rates. These counties include Vernon, Brown, Eau Claire, and St. Croix, just to name a few.
There were other states that had declines in their populations during the same period of 2010 to 2015. The highest loss happened in Rusk County, with a 4.04%. This was followed by Langlade County of 3.61%, Adams County at 3.43%, and others including Richland, Lincoln, and Forest. Smaller losses were recorded in counties including Douglas, Sawyer, Wood, and 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 82.29%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 39.39%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
91.38% of Wisconsin residents speak only English, while 8.62% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 4.64% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Wisconsin is Black, with 29.18% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Wisconsin is White, with 8.12% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 2.1%. Among those working part-time, it was 14.94%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 17.89%.
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 55-64.
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 Wisconsin
97.37% of Wisconsin residents were born in the United States, with 72.77% having been born in Wisconsin. 2.71% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.