Population Growth: Everybody Loves Texas, Apparently

While New York, Los Angeles and Chicago still top the list of America’s largest cities, they may face some competition from up-and-comer Houston, Texas.According to new research based on an analysis of the 2000 and 2010 census, Houston’s population grew by 1.2 million people and increased by more than 123,000 per year over the past decade, making it the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States.”Houston’s growth represents more people than the population growth in the New York and Chicago metropolitan areas combined during the past decade,” said Michael Emerson, co-director of the Kinder Institute. “Houston’s growth alone accounts for more people than the nation’s 14 smallest metropolitan areas combined (including Buffalo and New Orleans).”

While 42 of the nation’s metropolitan areas actually decreased in population, Emerson said, Houston grew thanks to its proximity to Latin America, pro-business policies, low cost of living, significant job growth and location.

Following closely behind Houston was the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, another Texas location, which grew by just 21,000 fewer people over the decade than Houston.

“As of 2011, the population increases in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan areas have catapulted the two cities into the No. 5 (Houston) and No. 4 (Dallas-Fort Worth) largest metropolitan areas in the United States,” Emerson said.

The only other metropolitan area to grow by more than 1 million people over the past decade was Atlanta, the nation’s ninth largest city.

U.S. population growth has been concentrated in the South and Southwest over the past several decades, and seems to be intensifying, thanks mostly to the large influx of immigrants rather than relocation.

Here is a list of the top 15 cities in terms of population growth over the past decade:

1. Houston 1,231,393
2. Dallas-Fort Worth 1,210,229
3. Atlanta 1,020,879
4. Riverside, Calif. 970,030
5. Phoenix 941,011
6. Washington, D.C. 785,987
7. Las Vegas 575,504
8. New York 574,107
9. Miami 557,071
10. Orlando, Fla. 489,850
11. Austin, Texas 466,526
12. Los Angeles 463,210
13. San Antonio 430,805
14. Charlotte, N.C. 427,590
15. Seattle 395,931