June 3rd, 2013 | Posted in Population Basics
by Beth Jarosz, research associate, Domestic Programs
After years of anemic population growth, America’s 10 largest cities* are bouncing back, with population growth rates that now outpace the national average. While these large cities made up only 8 percent of the United States population in 2012, they accounted for more than 11 percent of U.S. population growth over the prior year. The 25 largest cities** have seen similar population growth trends.
In the early part of the last decade, population growth in America’s largest cities was negligible, and those cities saw a net population loss between 2003 and 2005. Then, the downward trend reversed. Population growth in large cities caught up with national population growth at the end of the decade, and recently surpassed the national average rate of growth, with big cities growing by more than 1 percent in the past year, while the nation only grew by 0.7 percent.
In the United States, average population growth dropped off from 1 percent growth per year for most of the last decade to 0.7 percent per year for each of the past two years.
The 10 largest cities had average annual population growth rates of 0.7 percent or less during the 2000s decade, including two years of population loss between 2003 and 2005. These cities rebounded and grew by 0.9 percent between 2010 and 2011, and grew by 1 percent between 2011 and 2012, a rate 40 percent faster than the national average.
The largest 25 cities had low levels of population growth, similar to the 10 largest, between 2000 and 2010. These cities grew by 1.2 percent between 2011 and 2012, more than 60 percent faster than the national average.
The turnaround is so widespread that, with the exception of Detroit, each of the 25 largest cities saw population growth between 2010 and 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Between 2004 and 2005, half of the 25 largest cities recorded population losses. Even some slow-growing cities in the Northeast and Midwest, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, have seen a rebound in population growth after nearly a decade of losses.
Urban population growth in recent years may be attributed to a number of factors, including stronger job growth in urban areas and lower levels of residential mobility in the years following the housing collapse and recession.
*10 largest cities are: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, and San Jose.
**25 largest cities are: 10 largest plus Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Indianapolis, Ind.; San Francisco; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; El Paso, Texas, Memphis, Tenn.; Boston; Seattle; Denver; Washington, D.C.;and Nashville, Tenn.