Blogging on Employment and Job Markets in US Metro Areas

Metro Area Population Growth – Current and Previous Expansions

Using the NBER’s method of measuring expansions from trough to peak (see this NBER page on expansions and contractions) our current expansion is still chugging along 82 months after the June 2009 trough. The previous expansion, from November 2001 through December 2007 (referred to as “the 2001-07 expansion” for the rest of this post), was 73 months in duration.

With the Census Bureau’s recent release of 2016 population estimates for metro areas, I’ve compared the growth rates for large metro areas (the 51 metro areas with populations of 1 million or more as of the 2010 census) for the current and previous expansions. The Census Bureau’s population estimates are for July 1st of each year. For this comparison of population growth, for the current expansion I’ll use the CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the 2009 to 2016 period, and for the previous expansion the CAGR over the 2001 to 2007 period. At the end of this post is a sortable table showing the population growth rates for both expansions, as well as the difference between the two, for all 51 large metro areas.

Before reviewing the metro area population growth rates, for the US national population the CAGR was 0.93% for the 2007-10 expansion and 0.74% for the current expansion.

Here are metro areas with the top ten rates of population growth for the 2001-07 expansion (left) and the current expansion (right):

large metro areas top 10 population growth rates, 2001-07 expansion and 2009-16
Just as the national rate of population growth has slowed during the current expansion compared to the 2001-07 expansion, so have the growth rates of the fastest growing in metro areas. For the 2001-07 expansion, the top ten growth rates ranged from 2.36% to 4.19%, while for the current expansion the rates range from 1.66% to 2.91%. For each metro area in both top ten lists, the rate of population growth has slowed during the current expansion, with the exception of Denver, Colorado. The metro areas in both top ten lists area also all in warm weather states, again with the exception of Denver.

Texas metro areas feature prominently with Austin, San Antonio, and Houston in both lists, joined by Dallas-Fort Worth in the list for the current expansion. On top of that, Austin went from the sixth fastest population growth for the 2001-07 expansion to #1 for the current expansion. The other Texas metros rose in rank, too (Houston from #10 to #3, San Antonio from #9 to #5, and Dallas-Fort Worth from #12 to #6).

North Carolina was the only other state to have more than one metro areas show up in either list, with Raleigh at #2 in both lists, Charlotte at #7 for the 2001-07 expansion, and #9 for the current expansion.

The below table shows the metro areas with the ten largest increases in population growth rates for the current expansion compared to the previous expansion:

large metro areas, top 10 increases in population growth rates, 2001-07 expansion and 2009-16
At the top of this list is New Orleans with its negative growth rate for the 2001-07 expansion showing the impact of Hurricane Katrina (the New Orleans metro area’s 2006 population was 25% below that of 2005). Next on the list are tech hubs San Francisco and San Jose, both with growth rates of 1.21% (well above the national rate) for the current expansion compared to anemic growth rates well below the national rate of population growth for the 2001-07 expansion.

Next, the below table shows metro areas with decreases in population during the current expansion:

large metro areas with negative population growth, 2001-07 expansion and 2009-16
These five metro areas that have seen negative population growth during the current expansion also saw negative population growth during the 2001-07 expansion (with the exception of Hartford, Connecticut), though at steeper rates of decline. Note that, again with the exception of Hartford, these are Rust Belt cities. The only other large metro area to experience negative population growth during the 2001-07 expansion was New Orleans, which as noted above, was due to Hurricane Katrina.

Lastly, here is the sortable table of all 51 large metro areas:

Population Growth
Population Growth
Austin, TX3.00%2.91%-0.09%
Raleigh, NC3.67%2.32%-1.36%
Houston, TX2.36%2.17%-0.18%
Orlando, FL3.13%2.09%-1.04%
San Antonio, TX2.37%2.07%-0.30%
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX2.08%1.90%-0.18%
Denver, CO1.45%1.85%0.40%
Nashville, TN2.06%1.73%-0.33%
Charlotte, NC2.78%1.72%-1.06%
Phoenix, AZ3.01%1.66%-1.35%
Seattle-Tacoma, WA1.11%1.53%0.43%
Las Vegas, NV4.19%1.52%-2.66%
Oklahoma City, OK1.32%1.49%0.17%
Jacksonville, FL2.18%1.47%-0.71%
Washington, DC1.31%1.44%0.13%
Salt Lake City, UT1.41%1.43%0.02%
Atlanta, GA2.37%1.43%-0.94%
Miami, FL0.99%1.40%0.40%
Portland, OR1.36%1.36%-0.01%
Tampa, FL1.84%1.33%-0.51%
Inland Empire, CA3.15%1.22%-1.93%
San Francisco, CA0.04%1.21%1.17%
San Jose, CA0.22%1.21%0.98%
New Orleans, LA-3.34%1.19%4.54%
San Diego, CA0.61%1.16%0.55%
Columbus, OH1.27%1.13%-0.15%
Sacramento, CA1.84%1.06%-0.78%
Indianapolis, IN1.33%0.97%-0.36%
Richmond, VA1.55%0.94%-0.61%
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN0.96%0.92%-0.04%
Boston, MA0.06%0.82%0.76%
Kansas City, MO1.04%0.77%-0.27%
Louisville, KY1.01%0.63%-0.38%
Los Angeles, CA0.16%0.59%0.43%
Baltimore, MD0.59%0.54%-0.05%
New York, NY0.11%0.49%0.38%
Hampton Roads, VA0.72%0.49%-0.23%
Cincinnati, OH0.59%0.39%-0.20%
Philadelphia, PA0.48%0.31%-0.18%
Birmingham, AL0.74%0.28%-0.47%
Memphis, TN1.03%0.27%-0.76%
Milwaukee, WI0.26%0.21%-0.05%
St. Louis, MO0.40%0.14%-0.26%
Chicago, IL0.30%0.13%-0.18%
Providence, RI0.07%0.12%0.05%
Rochester, NY0.06%0.01%-0.05%
Buffalo, NY-0.40%-0.03%0.36%
Hartford, CT0.57%-0.03%-0.60%
Detroit, MI-0.32%-0.05%0.27%
Pittsburgh, PA-0.41%-0.08%0.33%
Cleveland, OH-0.39%-0.18%0.22%
data source: Census Bureau