Kentucky cities continued over the past decade to grow more quickly than unincorporated areas in the commonwealth, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday. City residents now account for 56% of the state’s total population, which continues the recent trend toward more urbanization.
Kentucky cities collectively increased their population by 7.1% from 2010 to 2020. The state grew by 3.8%, while the population living in unincorporated areas of the state declined by 0.04%. Cities added over 167,000 people, which represents slightly more than the total new residents added statewide.
“The new census data show just how important cities are to this state’s economy and population growth,” said KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney. “To continue these positive trends, Kentucky’s cities need legislative action to help them invest more in infrastructure, public safety, quality of life, and economic development.”
The five largest cities – Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Owensboro, and Covington – remain unchanged in the population rankings. Those cities averaged a growth rate of over 9%, with Bowling Green growing by 24.5% over the past decade. The City of Hopkinsville lost nearly 400 people, dropping it four spots from its previous rank of sixth to 10th. The City of Georgetown added nearly 8,000 new residents, moving it up from ninth to claim sixth place.
The small city of Booneville grew by over 107%, going from 81 to 168 residents. Mount Washington outpaced all other cities with a population of at least 1,000 by nearly doubling its 2010 census population to 18,090 residents.
Negative population trends continue in eastern and much of western Kentucky, while central Kentucky – particularly the “golden triangle” area between Louisville, Lexington, and northern Kentucky – remains one of the highest growth areas.
Thursday’s release included data on population, race, and housing, which states and localities can use for redistricting purposes. The Census Bureau will release additional information and easier-to-use data tables this fall.
|Top 15 Most Populous Kentucky Cities
|City||2010 Census Population||2020 Census Population||Percent Change|
|* Louisville’s population excludes the other suburban cities within Jefferson County.|