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1960 census: First census to show full effects of post-World War II baby boom in Washington state; urban areas grow in population, rural areas contract.

HistoryLink.org Essay 9341 : Printer-Friendly Format

In an effort to improve the quality and completeness of the data, the 18th federal census in 1960 is the first to mail to all households in the United States preliminary census forms to be filled out in preparation for personal interviews by census takers. The final count of the 1960 census illustrates the effects of suburbs and urban sprawl on urban population counts and the continuing trend of relocation from rural to urban areas. The effects of the post-war "baby boom" are also clear, with a 42 percent increase over 1950 in the number of persons aged 0-14, compared to a 20 percent increase in overall population. The data also shows that the median incomes of women and minorities lags seriously behind that of white males.

Population and Growth

The total population of Washington state in 1960 was 2,853,214, an increase of 474,251 (20 percent) from the 1950 count of 2,378,963.

The largest 10 of the 39 counties in Washington state by population were:

  • King: 935,014 (up 28 percent from 1950 count of 732,992)
  • Pierce: 321,590 (up 17 percent from 1950 count of 275,876)
  • Spokane: 278,333 (up 26 percent over 1950 count of  221,561)
  • Snohomish: 172,199 (up 54 percent from 1950 count of 111,580)
  • Yakima: 145,112 (up 7 percent from 1950 count of 135,723)
  • Clark: 93,809  (up 10 percent from 1950 count of 85,307)
  • Kitsap: 84,176  (up 11 percent from 1950 count of 75,724)
  • Whatcom: 70,317 (up 5 percent from 1950 count of 66,733)
  • Benton: 62,070  (up 21 percent from 1950 count of 51,370)
  • Cowlitz: 57,801 (up 8 percent from 1950 count of 53,369)

Benton County replaced Grays Harbor County as the ninth largest in the state in 1960.

Population Distribution:  Urban and Rural

Due to urban sprawl and the growth of suburbs, the census bureau found it necessary to revise the way it viewed urban areas versus rural areas for the 1960 census. "Urbanized Areas" were defined as a "Central City" of at least 50,000 inhabitants, together with an "Urban Fringe," made up of surrounding incorporated areas with populations of 2,500 or more and unincorporated areas with a population density of at least 1,000 persons per square mile. The number of people in the "Urbanized Areas" added significantly to the count for central cities alone, and this gave a more useful perspective on population concentrations.

Another new definition, "Other Urban Areas," had two subcategories: places with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 that were not part of the urban fringe of a larger city, and places with populations between 2,500 and 10,000 that also were not part of an urban fringe. All areas that did not fall into the category of "urbanized area" or "other urban area" were deemed rural.

The 1960 statewide counts for urban areas were:

  • Population of central cities (50,000+): 886,674
  • Population of urban fringe areas: 466,259
  • Population of other urban areas (10,000 to 50,000): 372,804
  • Population of other urban areas (2,500 to 10,000): 217,512

Total urban population: 1,943,249 (68 percent, up from 63.2 percent in 1950).

Total rural population: 909,965 (32 percent, down from 36.8 percent in 1950).

These counts clearly illustrated the growing trend of movement from rural areas to urban areas.

Population:  Central Cities

In Washington, three cities qualified as urbanized areas, i.e. had a central city with a population greater than 50,000. The populations of their central areas were:

  • Seattle: 557,087 (19 percent increase over 1950 population of 467,591). In 1960, Seattle was the 19th largest city in United states, the same rank it held in 1950.

  • Spokane:181,608 (12.3 percent increase over the 1950 count of 161,721). In 1960, Spokane was the 68th largest city in the United States, down from 62nd in 1950.

  • Tacoma: 147,979 (3 percent increase over the 1950 count of 143,673). In 1960, Tacoma was the 84th largest city in the United States, down from 65th in 1950.

The five largest "other urban areas" in Washington state in 1960 were:

  • Yakima:  43,284
  • Everett: 40,304
  • Bellingham: 34,688
  • Vancouver: 32,464
  • Bremerton: 28,922

Population Characteristics:  Sex

In the 1960 census, males barely outnumbered females in Washington, although the gap was closing when compared to the 1950 census numbers:

  • Male population 1960:  1,435,037 (50.3 percent, down 1.1 percent from 1950)
  • Male population 1950:  1,223,851 (51.4 percent)

  • Female population 1960: 1,418,177 (49.7 percent, up 1.1 percent from 1950)
  • Female population 1950: 1,155,112  (48.6 percent)

Population Characteristics: Age

In 1960 there were 892,133 children 14 years of age or younger, a jump of 263,483 (42 percent) from 1950 count of 628,650.

The median age for all persons in Washington state in 1960 was 29.5 years, meaning that one-half of all persons were older than that and one-half were younger.

The median age for males in 1960 was 29.0 years, and the median age for females was 30.1.

The population distribution by age in 1960 was:

  • Under 5  years:  315,608
  • 5-14 years: 576,525
  • 15-24 years: 383,926
  • 25-34 years: 348,506
  • 35-44 years: 385,900
  • 45-54 years: 326,554
  • 55-64 years:  241,501
  • 65-74 years: 178,903
  • 75-84 years: 81,388
  • 85 years and older: 14,403

Population Characteristics: Race

The racial makeup of Washington state in 1960 was overwhelmingly white, with 2,751,675 (96.4 percent) white residents and only 101,539 (3.6 percent) minorities. By way of contrast, in the 2000 census 81.8 percent of the state's total population was white, and 18.2 percent belonged to minority groups. The percentages given below may not total exactly 100 percent due to rounding.

Male population by race, 1960:

  • White: 1,381,261  (96.2 percent of male population, 48.4 percent of total population)
  • Black:  26,000  (1.81 percent of male population, 0.91 percent of total population)
  • Indian:  10,762  (0.75 percent of male population, 0.38 percent of total population)
  • Japanese:  7,882  (0.55 percent of male population, 0.28 percent of total population)
  • Filipino:  4,585  (0.32 percent of male population, 0.16 percent of total population)
  • Chinese:  3,229 (0.23 percent of male population, 0.11 percent of total population)
  • Other:  1,318  (0.10 percent of male population, 0.46 percent of total population)

Female population by race, 1960:

  • White: 1,370,414 (96.6 percent of female population, 48 percent of total population)
  • Black:  22,738 (1.6 percent of female population, 0.8 percent of total population)
  • Indian: 10,314 (0.73 percent of female population, 0.36 percent of total population)
  • Japanese:  8,770 (0.62 percent of female population, 0.31 percent of total population)
  • Filipino: 2,525 (0.18 percent of female population, 0.09 percent of total population)
  • Chinese:  2,262 (0.16 percent of female population, 0.079 percent of total population)
  • Other:  1,154 (0.081 percent of female population, 0.04 percent of total population)

The racial makeup of Washington state's three largest cities was:

Seattle:

  • White:  510,559 (91.6 percent)
  • Black:  26,901 (4.8 percent)
  • Asian and Pacific Islander: 17,182 (3.1 percent)
  • American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut: 1,729 (0.3 percent)
  • Other 716: (0.1 percent)

Spokane:

  • White:  177,100 (97.5 percent)
  • Black: 2,424  (1.3 percent)
  • Asian and Pacific Islander: 1,406 (0.8 percent)
  • American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut:  613 (0.3 percent)
  • Other:  65

Tacoma:

  • White:  140,106 (94.7 percent)
  • Black: 5,943 (4.0 percent)
  • Asian and Pacific Islander: 922 (0.6 percent)
  • American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut:  846 (0.6 percent)
  • Other: 162 (0.1 percent)

Persons of Hispanic/Latino derivation were not counted separately at the city level in the 1960 census, but were included in the "White" count. 

Population Characteristics: Ethnicity

In 1960, the population of Washington state that was either foreign born or had foreign or mixed parentage (one parent foreign born) was 653,537 (23 percent). The top five countries or regions of origin were: 

  • Germany:  75,104
  • Norway:  74,633
  • United Kingdom:  68,148
  • Sweden:  58,000
  • Asia (not further specified): 30,753
  • In addition, 140,243 persons born in Canada and of several ethnic backgrounds resided in Washington in 1960.

People of Hispanic/Latino descent were not counted as a separate group in the 1960 census, as they have been in more recent years. However, the 1960 census counted 11,076 Washington residents born in Mexico and 3,182 born in other Latin American countries.

Population Characteristics:  Education

Education statistics from the 1960 census, based on 1,577,155 Washington residents age 25 and older, listed by grades or degrees completed:

  • No Schooling completed: 12,828  (0.8 percent)  
  • 1st to 4th grade: 41,014  (2.6 percent)
  • 5th and 6th grade: 61,468  (3.9 percent)
  • 7th and 8th grade: 340,768  (21.6 percent)  
  • 9th, 10th, and 11th grade: 308,191 (19.5 percent)
  • 12th grade: 481,752 (30.5 percent)
  • College, one to three years: 184,282 (12.1 percent)
  • College, four years or more: 146,852 (9 percent)

The median number of grades completed was 12.1, and 93 percent of all children between 14 and 17 years of age were enrolled in school in 1960, ranging from a high of 97.1 in Lincoln County to a low of 89.5 in Pierce County.

Population Characteristics: Employment

The total potential Washington state's civilian labor force (persons over age 14) in 1960 was 1,003,283 males and 1,002,319 females, for a total of 2,005,602.

  • Men actually in civilian labor force: 728,474 
  • Men actually employed: 683,274
  • Men unemployed: 45,200
  • Men in armed forces: 52,027
  • Women actually in civilian labor force: 344,478
  • Women actually employed: 318,635
  • Women unemployed: 25,383

The 1960 census gave no figure for Washington women serving in the armed forces. The statistics show that 73 percent of all males over the age of 14 were actually in the civilian labor force, while only 34 percent of females over the age of 14 were actually in the civilian labor force.

Of the  1,001,909 men and women workers actually employed in Washington state in 1950, a total of 56 percent worked in the following industries:

  • Wholesale and retail trade: 196,256 (19.5 percent)
  • Durable goods manufacturing: 165,041 (16.5 percent)
  • Professional and related services:  133,339 (13.3 percent)
  • Construction:  67,471  (6.7 percent)

Population Characteristics: Income

"Median income" is the midpoint of all incomes. Half of all actual incomes will be above the "median income" figure and half will be below. The statistics in Washington for the year 1959 (as measured by the 1960 census) were:

Median income -- all households: $6,225

  • Median income all males: $4,626
  • Median income all females: $1,311
  • Median income nonwhite males: $1,551
  • Median income nonwhite females: $1,292 

Sources:
"Census Data for the Year 1960," University of Virginia library website accessed March 2, 2010 (http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=960); "1960 Census of Population: Advance Reports," United State Census Bureau website accessed March 5, 2010 (http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/15611103ch4.pdf); "1960 Census of Housing, Vol. 1 Pt. 8: Washington," United State Census Bureau website accessed March 3, 2010 (http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/41962442v1p8ch6.pdf); "Number of Inhabitants: Washington,"  United State Census Bureau website accessed March 4, 2010 (http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/37784087v2p47ch2.pdf); 1950 Census: Census of Population and Housing," United State Census Bureau website accessed March 4, 2010 (http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/decennial/1950.html); "Census Data for the Year 1950," University of Virginia library website accessed March 2, 2010 (http://fisher.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl?year=950).
Note: This essay replaces an earlier essay on the same subject.


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Credentials for census enumerator, U.S. Census, 1960
Courtesy United States Census Bureau


FOSDIC optical scanning computer, U.S. Census, 1960
Courtesy United States Census Bureau


Davenport Hotel and Restaurant (Kirtland Cutter, restaurant, 1900, hotel, 1914), Spokane, 1960s
Postcard


4th Avenue and Seneca Street, Seattle 1960s
Postcard


Yakima Avenue, Yakima, 1960s
Postcard


Holly Street, Bellingham, 1960s
Postcard


Benton County Courthouse, Prosser, 1960s
Postcard


Bremerton, 1960s
Postcard


 
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