Southern, Western Counties Growing Fastest, Census Says

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas metropolitan area gained 131,767 people from July 2017 to July 2018.

The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas metropolitan area gained 131,767 people from July 2017 to July 2018. Shutterstock


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Four of the top 10 fastest-growing counties are in Texas, according to new population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The fastest-growing counties are in the south and west, with four of the top 10 located in Texas, according to new population estimates from the Census Bureau.

The data, spanning July 2017 to July 2018, provides “population estimates, rankings and components of change” for 3,142 counties, along with 390 metropolitan statistical areas and 555 micropolitan statistical areas.

By numeric growth—that is, the number of people who moved to an area—Maricopa County, Arizona ranks first, with 81,244 new residents from July 2017 to July 2018. Clark County, Nevada (48,337) was second, followed by Harris County (34,460) and Collin County (33,753), both in Texas.

McKenzie County, North Dakota had the largest growth by percentage (7.1 percent), followed by Williams County, N.D. (5.9 percent), Comal County (5.4) and Kaufman County (4.7), both in Texas.

By sheer numbers, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas was the fastest-growing metropolitan area, gaining 131,767 new residents. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona, was next (96,268 people), followed by Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas (91,689). By growth rate, Midland, Texas led (4.3 percent), followed by Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C. (3.8 percent) and St. George, Utah (3.5 percent).

Nearly half of all population growth in the country was fueled by international immigration along with rising death rates and shrinking birth rates, according to the data. 

Miami-Dade County in Florida gained 58,732 residents through international immigration, followed by Harris County, Texas (35,952) and Los Angeles County, California (34,894). All three of those counties also lost large numbers of residents to people moving to other parts of the country (51,671 left Miami-Dade, 43,669 left Harris County and 98,608 moved from Los Angeles County).

Growth in medium-sized metros outpaced population gains in larger cities for the first time since 2007, while non-metro rural areas saw a growth increase for the first time since 2010.  Baltimore, for example, lost 1.2 percent of its population (7,346 people), the biggest loss since 2001. By contrast, The Villages, a census-designated retirement community near Orlando, grew by 3.1 percent (3,821 people).

Multiple non-major metros also cracked the top 10 in terms of population growth, an uncommon occurrence, said Sandra Johnson, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division.

“One interesting trend we are seeing this year is that metro areas not among the most populous are ranked in the top 10 for population growth,” Johnson said in a statement. “Though no new metro areas moved into the top 10 largest areas, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, and Orlando all experienced numeric increases in population since 2010, rivaling growth in areas with much larger populations. This trend is consistent with the overall growth we are seeing in the south and the west.”

The bureau's population estimates are based on analysis of various records tracked by the federal government. The most authoritative figures will be collected in 2020, when the Census conducts its decennial population count.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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