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Most U.S. Pop Growth Last Year Occurred Outside of Largest Cities

May 23, 2024

There are 124 cities with a population over 200,000 in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates for last year, over 90% of the U.S. population growth last year took place outside of its 124 largest cities. About a third of those cities lost population last year.  The total growth in the population of cities with over 200,000 residents grew by .23%, less than half of what the U.S. grew last year.

Roughly a third of those that lost population were located in New York and California. The three largest cities in the U.S., New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, all lost population again in 2023. Between the three cities, over 700,000 people have left since the 2020 census. New York is by far the biggest loser at 546,000. That is about 6.2% of its 2020 population.

Texas had the most cities with more than 200,000 residents gained with fourteen. Several of its suburban cities, such as Frisco, Round Rock, and Denton, grew at jaw-dropping rates of up to 5% in a single year. Texas’ five largest cities, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin, all had positive population growth. However, all, with the exception of Fort Worth, had growth rates that were well below the state average. San Antonio and Fort Worth had the absolute most new residents of any U.S. city, with just under 22,000 each.

Florida is home to nine cities with more than 200,000. All of those had growth rates at about three times the national average. Its largest city, Jacksonville, will likely be the first city in Florida to exceed 1 million residents later this decade. The individual city numbers are a little misleading for Florida because it has a large number of medium-sized cities. If you have ever driven the Atlantic coast, you know that it is almost a nonstop chain of city after city.

Cities in the Carolinas also had impressive growth rates. Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city, grew by 1.74%. Several of Las Vegas’ suburbs also saw significant growth last year.

To me, the results of the Census estimates for the year once again confirm that Americans are voting with their feet against the supposed utopia of dense, urban living promoted by so many urban “planners.” Yet I constantly hear from the latest generation of “urbanists” how the American people are clamoring for walkable, transit-dominated cityscapes. With over 90% of Americans making a different choice, that clamoring seems to be mostly illusory. We need to plan and make our public investments accordingly.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

Bill King is a businessman and lawyer, and is a former opinion columnist and editorial board member at the Houston Chronicle. He has served in a number of appointed and elected positions, including mayor of his hometown. He writes on a wide range of public policy and political issues. Bill is the author of “Unapologetically Moderate.” 

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