Another Top-10 List — Best (and Worst) Population Growth U.S. Cities 2010-2017

While the U.S. added 16.4 million people from 2010 to 2017 (rising from 309.3 Million to 325.7 million), that growth rate is not the same for all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs).  Some MSAs grew strongly during the entire period, topping U.S. growth, yet other MSAs shrunk 5 percent or more – one even suffering a 9.1 percent decline (Pine Bluff Arkansas).

Population growth (or loss) is a combination of net migration (people moving in versus people moving out), and organic population growth (the net of new births versus deaths).  MSAs with younger-aged populations have a propensity to growth, while those with a greater-median age find it difficult to not shrink.

Once again I invoke the TINSTAANREM axiom — There Is No Such Thing As A National Real Estate Market or a National Economy.  The same is true about population growth rates.  Some locales are magnets for people searching for everything from climate, life style, jobs and related community amenities – just to name a few.  Others are hemorrhaging an out pouring of people departing due to factors including high unemployment, too expensive cost of living (housing), crime, climate, and even state and local taxes.  California, for example, lost 1 million people from  2006 to 2016 due to either or both excessively expensive housing costs and aggressive state and local taxes.

Where in the U.S. is population growing the best and where is it shrinking the most from 2010 to 2017?  To answer this, 24/7 Wall St analyzed population changes across all 382 U.S. MSAs as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.  They created a list of the 25 MSAs having the greatest percentage population growth rate in this period and those with the largest decline.

In addition to being ranked on population percent change during the interval, analyzed in the background (what causes or sustains population growth or declines) included (and there are no surprises here):

  • 2016 median household income obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey

Low incomes are positively associated with low or negative population growth rates

  • Seasonally adjusted January 2018 unemployment rate per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

High unemployment rates correspond to population declines overall

  • Personal income tax collections per capita and property taxes paid as a percentage of home value by state for Fiscal 2015 by the Tax Foundation

High taxes correspond to population declines

The first table shows the top-10 MSAs with the greatest percentage increase in population from 2010 to 2017.   In addition to the data summaries from 24/7 Wall St, also included are the 12-month job growth rates as of the end of March 2018 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  [While these are all MSAs, only the primary part of the MSA name was included in the table.  For example, the official name of the Orlando MSA is Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, but it is listed as Orlando.]

Sticking to my axiom that, “Jobs are everything,” the following table provides some support.   All but two of the top-10 population growth MSAs had job growth rates exceeding that of the U.S. — The Villages in Florida and Cape Coral-Ft Myers fell short.  These two Florida MSAs with a lower job growth rate than the U.S. in part can be explained by retirees moving to these locales and increasing population, but without a significant gain in jobs.  At the other extreme, Midland, Texas posted a phenomenal job growth rate of 8.59 percent (latest 12-months) while at the same time sustaining a population growth of 20.4 percent (in the 2010-2017 interval).  The oil and natural gas boom of the Permian Basin is incredibly strong due to net in-migration.   There is an estimate 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Permian Basin using just today’s technology implying that this impressive job growth is not just a flash in the pan.

As always, for every winner there is a loser.   The following table shows, once again, that population growth is positively correlated to job growth rates- and vice versa .  Five of the greatest population losses from 2010 to 2017 are in MSAs that had a negative job growth rate in the latest 12-months.   The other five MSAs all had job growth rates for the latest 12-months of less than 0.4 percent while the U.S. overall was 1.56 percent.

To read the entire article in USA Today, including all the population metrics for the 25 best and worst performers click or the study can be viewed on 24/7Wall St at

Show me strong job markets and I will likely show you significant population growth over sustained periods.   Show me job loses, and population decline is a higher probability.

It’s all about economics.   Supply and demand still define the economy – as long as subsidies do not skew otherwise.


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