Topeka is a city located in Shawnee County Kansas. Topeka has a 2023 population of 125,353. It is also the county seat of Shawnee County.Topeka is currently declining at a rate of -0.24% annually and its population has decreased by -0.73% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 126,269 in 2020.
The average household income in Topeka is $67,503 with a poverty rate of 15.24%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to - per month, and the median house value is -. The median age in Topeka is 38.1 years, 36.5 years for males, and 39.6 years for females.
The city’s top employer is the State of Kansas, employing more than 8,000 people. Over 22% of residents work in the educational, health and social services industry, with the city’s four school districts employing about 4,700 people and Washburn University providing around 1,650 jobs.
Topeka’s population has seen its ups and downs throughout the years, with some censuses showing significant, rapid growth while others reflect smaller percentages of growth or even declining numbers. Most recently, the population is down 0.5% since the 2010 census. However, this downward trend is not expected to continue, although a rapid growth of the city is not likely any time in the near future.
As with other cities located in the Great Plains, Topeka was initially inhabited by native tribes. The land that is now Kansas changed ownership several times throughout the 16th and 18th centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, ownership went to the United States following the Louisiana Purchase.
It was during the 1840s when a ferry service was established crossing the Kansas River. While settlers could cross the river, the area that is now Topeka was not yet developed. It was when a military road was developed in the 1850s when the area was settled. A cabin was built in 1854 and the Topeka Town Association was established. It was during the next decade when the city became a hub for commercial activity.
It was also during this time when the state was admitted to the Union and was the 34th state in the United States. Topeka was selected as the capital. The construction of the capitol building began in 1866 but took 37 years to complete.
Population growth was slow because of a drought in the 1860s and the Civil War. However, once the war was over the city began to grow. During this time, many former slaves settled in Topeka, and Washburn University was also established as the population and the city itself grew. A depression in the late 19th century could have been disastrous but residents made it through, and the population doubled. The population continued to grow with the introduction of the automobile industry, with Topeka serving as the site of the Smith Automobile Company, which was in business for ten years. Another notable fact about Topeka at this time was that it was the site of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, a Supreme Court case that overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson and made racial segregation in schools illegal. However, despite the court ruling, racial discrimination continued to burden the city for many years.
The city was struck by a devastating tornado in 1966. The city suffered about $100 million in damage because of the tornado and was one of the most expensive in history. However, the city did recover, and its economy and population continued to grow. However, the 1970s saw a drop in population with the closing of Forbes Air Force Base, with more than 10,000 people leaving the city. Population and the city grew again in the next decade with the construction of a mall, airport and convention center.
Today, the city continues to grow as more jobs are created, and the city plans to redevelop many areas, including the State Capitol.
According to the most recent ACS, the racial composition of Topeka was:
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 islander people with a rate of 100%.
The highest rate of bachelors degrees is among asian people with a rate of 45.36%.
Other Indo-European Languages
Asian and Pacific Island Languages
90.05% of Topeka residents speak only English, while 9.95% speak other languages. The non-English language spoken by the largest group is Spanish, which is spoken by 7.98% of the population.
Overall Poverty Rate
Male Poverty Rate
Female Poverty Rate
The race most likely to be in poverty in Topeka is Islander, with 90% below the poverty level.
The race least likely to be in poverty in Topeka is Asian, with 12.96% below the poverty level.
The poverty rate among those that worked full-time for the past 12 months was 3.67%. Among those working part-time, it was 22.26%, and for those that did not work, the poverty rate was 23.55%.
Overall Marriage Rate
Male Marriage Rate
Female Marriage Rate
The age group where males are most likely to be married is 55-64, while the female age group most likely to be married is 35-44.
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 Topeka
95.54% of Topeka residents were born in the United States, with 68.21% having been born in Kansas. 3.23% of residents are not US citizens. Of those not born in the United States, the largest percentage are from Latin America.