The most important events of general interest concerning the political order of the USA in recent years have been the entry into the Confederation of two new states, namely Alaska, “incorporated territory” since 1912, erected into a state (490) on 3 January 1919, and the archipelago of Hawaii, annexed to the USA as an “external territory” in 1900, erected to a state (50th) on March 12, 1959. Puerto Rico did not face the same fate; the island constitutes (since 25 July 1952) the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, whose citizens have been granted the same rights as US citizens (see Puerto Rico, in this App.), like the citizens of the Virgin Islands who have (since 1954) their own parliamentary government.
The condition of “territory” has therefore ceased to exist as a political-administrative entity of the USA (only the Samoa Islands remain with the qualification of “non-organized and non-incorporated American territory”, but with its own bicameral legislature since 1948; a new statute is in the process of being applied). The Confederation therefore now consists of 50 states and the Federal District or Columbia. The table on p. 822 provides essential statistical data.
The modulus of population increase in the decade 1940-1950 was 14.5%; and it represents the lowest increase occurred from 1860 onwards (except for the previous decade, characterized by the Great Depression, 7.2%); in the decade 1950-60 the modulus was 18.5%.
In the Federal District and three states – Virginia Occid., Arkansas and Mississippi – the population declined in the 1950s-60s and in the first of them the decrease was 7.2%. There is a clear contrast between some states of the East, where the modulus is below average (Vermont 3.2; Kentucky 3.2), and those of the Center-West and the Pacific: in California the modulus was 48.5 %, in Arizona by 73.7%. Florida (78.7) and Nevada (78.2) also have a very high modulus.
The extraordinary increase in the population is now largely due to the surplus of births over the dead. In the four-year period 1957-60 there were about 4,225,000 live births a year, compared to 1,650,000 deaths (1,702,000 in 1960, the peak year).
Permanent immigration is still regulated, as is well known, by restrictive laws which establish the maximum annual quotas allowed for different origins. For 1950 the total was 249,187, of which 199,115 from Europe; for 1955 it was 237,780 (127,492 from Europe), for 1960 (year ended June 30) it was 265,398, of which 139,670 from Europe. The Mexicans have been at the head of the immigrants for some years (about 32,500 in 1960); followed by Germans, Canadians, British, Italians, Poles, Dutch, Irish, Hungarians. The figures include the so-called “refugees” covered by the Refugee Relief Actof 1953; from the promulgation of this act until 1960 over 200,000 were admitted. On the other hand, Puerto Ricans and citizens of the Virgin Islands are not included among immigrants, who, being, as we have said, citizens of the USA, have the freedom to settle anywhere without any formalities; their influx until a few years ago increased from year to year, especially in the great centers of the East and in the forefront of New York; now it tends to diminish.
To be aware of the large disparities in population growth between the various states, it is necessary to have regard to internal migrations which intensified extraordinarily during and after the Second World War. Between 1940 and 1947, approximately 12.4 million people moved from one state to another and over 13 million from one county to another in the same state. These movements still continue: intense is the call of the states of the West – California and Washington – not in the countryside, but in the cities, which are expanding at an incessant pace. Even outside the West, urbanism manifests itself with imposing currents. In front of these there is a current so far weak, but which tends to intensify, especially in the Eastern states,
The average population density for the whole of the USA is 19 residents per km 2, but it varies within very wide limits. The least densely populated states are Alaska (with less than 1 residents Per 10 km 2), Nevada (1 residents Every 2 km 2) and Wyoming (with 1 residents Per km 2). At the other extreme are five states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) that are over 100. per km 2 with maximum in Rhode Island. In the quadrilateral comprised approximately between Boston, Milwaukee, Saint Louis and Washington, which constitutes the district of large-scale industry, the density is about 85 residents per km 2 and the block that, within this quadrilateral, exceeds 100 residents it covers an area of approximately 350,000 km 2, slightly higher than that of Italy. In other more limited industrial districts, the population exceeds 50. per km 2. The predominantly agricultural regions naturally have lower densities (10-25); west of the 100th meridian, in countries where agriculture must be subsidized by irrigation and there are still large areas of forests or pastures and even uncultivated, the density drops below 10 residents per km 2. Then, as is well known, in the West there are vast desert areas because they are arid or because they are covered with bare rock or because they are lacerated by erosion (Bad Lands, etc.). A density map also reveals the influence of altitude and that, though not everywhere uniform, of the sea.
The data by race are available for the 1950 census. It is obtained that out of a total population of 150,697,361 residents (excluding Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands), 134,942,028 were Whites, of which 124,780,860 were natives, the rest born overseas. Of the 15,755,333 non-Whites, 15,042,286 were classified as Negroes, 343,410 as Indians; 141,768 were Japanese, 117,629 Chinese, etc. Numerically only Negroes are therefore of importance; they were 12,865,518 in 1940; their number therefore increased considerably, in the decade 1940-50, while among the Indians and the Japanese the increase was very slow (the Japanese have partly emigrated). The Chinese have also increased due to a stream of immigrants from Communist China.
The table opposite shows the figures of the black population for some states that have, in absolute line, a greater number.
In 1957 the non-white population was estimated at 18,765,000 individuals out of a total of 171,229,000.
For whites born abroad the following table provides data for the main states (figures rounded into thousands)
The number of citizens born in Italy has decreased compared to the 1940 census which reported about 4.5 million and the rate (34%) due to the state of New York has also decreased. Followed by Pennsylvania (11.5%), New Jersey (11%), California (7.1%), Massachusetts (7%), Illinois, Connecticut.