New Population Estimates Highlight Nation's Fastest-Growing Cities

According to new Census estimates, most cities continue to record steady population gains. View maps and updated data for hundreds of cities.
by | May 22, 2014 AT 8:00 AM

Fueled by an influx of younger residents and healthy regional economies, steady population growth hasn’t yet slowed across many of the nation’s urban centers.

Updated population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau Thursday highlight the country’s fastest-growing cities, showing many continue to welcome notable tallies of residents. Areas with strong energy sectors, retirement destinations and those attractive to young people, in particular, are experiencing large increases.

In all, cities with populations exceeding 100,000 collectively added an estimated 857,000 residents between July 2012 and July 2013, accounting for an increase of about 1 percent. By comparison, all other areas of the country recorded population growth of only 0.6 percent over the same time period.

Frisco, Texas, posted population gains of 6.5 percent over the short 12-month period, topping all other larger cities.

The city just north of Dallas has benefited from several corporate relocations and expansions in recent years. Conifer Health Solutions, for instance, is building a new headquarters there and expects to double its headcount.

Other cities reaped population gains from oil booms. Odessa, Texas, saw its population climb by 4 percent, while neighboring Midland added 3.6 percent more residents over the year. In fact, of the top 10 cities over 100,000 recording the steepest growth, five were in the Lone Star state. (See complete list below)

For an illustration of growth tied, in part, to a younger crowd, look no further than Austin. Since 2010, the city’s population swelled an estimated 70,000. Three nearby smaller cities – San Marcos, Cedar Park and Georgetown, Texas – grew at even faster rates this past year.

During the recession, migration rates stalled to near-record lows nationwide. Many young families who may have, like their parents, preferred to move further out to suburbs, didn’t possess the means to do so.

It’s for this reason that some expected cities’ strong growth to be short-lived, slowing once the economy rebounded. But this hasn’t yet happened. William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer, said the new estimates suggest cities’ population gains have more staying power.

“Some of them cooled off just a little bit in the past year, but compared to where they were over the past decade, they’re doing much better,” Frey said.

By and large, data indicates larger cities are growing at faster rates than suburban jurisdictions within the same metro areas, said Frey, who cited Austin, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., as cities attractive to younger residents.

Much of the cities whose populations are climbing at the highest rates are found in the southern and western U.S., as shown below. (Click to open interactive map in new window)

Of the nation’s largest cities, nowhere has population growth accelerated quite like Seattle. The city has seen annual population gains increase each of the past few years, climbing by 2.8 percent last year -- the highest rate of any city with at least a half million residents.

Denver and Charlotte have followed similar patterns in recent years, each posting a population uptick of 2.4 percent over the 12-month period.

A few cities with large numbers of retirees also registered strong growth. Take Cape Coral, Fla., for example, which added an estimated 4,300 residents, or about a 2.7 percent increase.

Detroit was the only larger city to post a sizable population decline, losing nearly 10,000 residents over the year.

City Population Data

The following table shows estimated changes in population between July 2012 and July 2013. Data for cities with at least 100,000 residents is shown; additional totals are available on our population map.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Estimates current as of July 2012 and July 2013.