Cleveland’s population flattens to nearly 385,000 after decades of steep losses, new census estimates show

Gus Chan, Plain Dealer file

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland’s population appears to be stabilizing ahead of the official count next year after a half-century of steep losses at census time every 10 years.

New estimates released Thursday put Cleveland’s population at 383,793 for 2018, down 0.4% from 385,428 a year earlier.

The number is only an estimate, as opposed to the more precise official count that will be made in April 2020.

But the estimate is further evidence of a stabilizing city, coupled with retrieve the sale prices of the houses and large new residential housing projects in some areas like the nearby West Side.

(Estimates for every city and town in Ohio and the 100 largest U.S. cities are shown in the charts at the bottom of this story.)

Census-to-Census Losses

The Census Bureau’s latest estimate indicates that since the 2010 census, Cleveland has lost 13,022 residents. In comparison, Cleveland lost:

  • 80,657 from 2000 to 2010.
  • 28,143 from 1990 to 2000.
  • 68,207 from 1980 to 1990.
  • 177,081 from 1970 to 1980.
  • 125,147 from 1960 to 1970.
  • 38,758 from 1950 to 1960.

Skiing since 1950

Cleveland’s population peaked in 1950 at 914,808 as the nation’s seventh largest city before beginning the decline.

When Cleveland had a population of 796,841 in 1920, only New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit were larger.

Cleveland in 1990 was overtaken by Columbus as the largest city in Ohio. Columbus now ranks 14th nationally with 892,533; Cleveland is 52nd.

But Cleveland remains the most densely populated major city in Ohio, with 4,939 residents per square mile.

The reason for the ranking difference for density is that Columbus is much larger – covering the same land area as the combined total for Cleveland, Cincinnati and Akron.

Biggest Cities in Ohio

Of Ohio’s 15 largest cities, only Columbus and Cincinnati have gained population since the 2010 census, according to 2018 estimates.

Columbus is up about 105,500 since the last census to 892,533. And Cincinnati is up 5,662 to about 302,605.

The largest city in the United States, New York, is up from about 223,615 since the 2010 census to 8,398,748 last year, according to new estimates. That’s more than double the size of second-ranked Los Angeles at 3,990,456.

More details for cities in the United States and Ohio are below.

Rich Exnerdata analysis editor for, writing about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner. Follow coverage of the 2020 census on this link.

The 100 largest American cities

x-Incorporated Regional Government

x-Incorporated Regional Government

x-Incorporated Regional Government

Populations of cities and towns in Ohio

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