An Urbanizing Missouri:
Postwar Economic Development
The trend discernible in 1930 of fewer Missourians engaged in agriculture and more employed in manufacturing and service industries accelerated during and after World War II. As a result of these economic changes, urban areas experienced impressive population growth, while rural areas suffered corresponding loss.
Each decennial census between 1940 and 1990 recorded population growth for Missouri, but at the end of the period the state held a smaller percentage of the nation's population than it had at the outset. While the state's population grew from 3,784,664 to 5,117,073 during those fifty years, Missouri fell behind the national growth rate. In 1940, the state claimed 2.9 percent of the country's population; by 1970 it held only 2.3 percent of the nation's people. Between 1980 and 1990, Missouri's population grew by 4.1 percent, while the nation's population grew by 10.2 percent.
The United States Census Bureau defines an urban area as a community that has a population of at least 2,500. In 1940 just over half of Missouri's population, 51.8 percent, met that classification. By 1950 the urban segment of the state's people had increased to 61.5 percent, or by almost 10 percent. This segment increased by an additional 4.9 percent during the next ten years and stood at 66.6 percent. The 1970 census recorded for Missouri an urban population of 70.2 percent. Thus, 420,170 fewer people lived in rural Missouri in 1970 than did in 1940. Since 1970, 79 percent of the state's population growth has occurred in the ten counties around Kansas City and