U.S. Rural Open Space is 94.6%of all land

A perennial argument for "smart growth" and compact urban
development is that we are running out of open space. But how much
open space is really left? Data available from the 2000 Census show
that at least 94.6% of the United States is rural open space, says
economist Randal O'Toole (Thoreau Institute).

Together, urbanized areas, urban clusters and rural places occupy
5.4% of the nation's land, while urban areas alone cover just 2.6%.
Rural open space thus covers 94.6 to 97.4% of the land.

On a state-by-state basis:

o Four states -- New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and
Rhode Island -- are 30 to 40% urbanized and, counting rural places,
40 to 44% developed.

o Delaware and Maryland are 15 to 20% urbanized and 18 to 23% developed.

o Florida is 11% urbanized and 16% developed.

o Six states -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Tennessee, New
Hampshire and North Carolina -- are 6 to 10% urbanized and 10 to 13%

o All other states are less than 7% developed.

Unfortunately, data from the 2000 census are not comparable with
numbers from the 1990 census because the Census Bureau changed many
of its definitions, explains O'Toole.

Among other things, urbanized areas were redefined to exclude many
undeveloped areas. This led to a 10% increase in population density
of urbanized areas.

Despite growing populations, the 2000 census reported many developed
areas were smaller than measured by the 1990 census.

Source: Randal O'Toole, "Another 'Smart Growth' Myth: U.S. Is
Running Out of Space," Volume 12, Number 7, July 2003, Carolina

For text http://www.johnlocke.org/acrobat/cjP..._2003_july.pdf

For more on the Census http://www.ncpa.org/pd/govern/govdex.html