1920 marked the first year that more U.S. residents lived in urban areas than rural areas (51% vs. 49%). In North Carolina, this transition did not occur until 1990, when 50.4% of state residents were living in urban areas compared to 49.6% living in rural areas. In 1990, only South Dakota (50%), Mississippi (47%), Maine (45%), West Virginia (36%), and Vermont (32%) had smaller shares of their population living in urban areas. Globally, 2010 marked the first time the majority of the world’s population was living in urban areas (52%).
Urban Area Definition
The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas:
- Urbanized areasof 50,000 or more people
- Urban clustersof at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people
Nationwide, there are 486 urbanized areas and 3,087 urban clusters. The population classified as urban includes all individuals living in urbanized areas and urban clusters.