America's Great Migrations
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Washington State Migration History 1850-2010

Washington remains today a state where most residents came from somewhere else, another state or another country. Occupied by Americans since the 1840s, it's population grew slowly until statehood in 1889, then surged after the discovery of gold in Alaska and the Yukon in 1896. Farming, timber, and fishing attracted newcomers from the upper Midwest and from northern Europe, along with smaller numbers of Chinese and Japanese. In the 20th century, wars brought rapid population growth as military bases, shipyards, and aircraft manufacturing transformed the economy of Puget Sound. The population nearly doubled in the two decades after 1940 and doubled again since the 1960s. For most of that time, Californians moving north have been the largest component of newcomers and in the last thirty years Washington has attracted increasing numbers of people from Mexico, China, Philippines, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.

Notice in the visualization below that the dark blue rectangle representing population born in state remains much smaller than the out-of-state born throughout the 150 year period. This visualization tool is hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page. Click here for other maps and articles on America's Great Migrations 

Note on data issues: Birth state information is missing for about 5% of US-born persons in 1970 and about 2% in 1960. These birthplaces are labeled "United States, ns" in the charts. Birthplaces were not recorded for enslaved persons in the 1850 and 1860 censuses, so it is not until 1870 that reliable data on African Americans became available. Native Americans were not routinely included in decennial censuses until 1900.

Source: U.S. Census data from the Minnesota Population Center's IPUMS USA: Steven Ruggles, Katie Genadek, Ronald Goeken, Josiah Grover, and Matthew Sobek. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 6.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2015, the following samples: 1900 1%, 1910 1%, 1920 1%, 1930 1%, 1940 1%, 1950 1%, 1960 5%, 1970 1% State FM1, 1980 5% State, 1990 5% State, 2000 1%, 2010 ACS 1%.

Maps and calculations: James Gregory.


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