Sun Belt City Populations Grow

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Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth have experienced more growth than anywhere else in the U.S.

Sun Belt City Populations Grow

Suburbs of Houston. Photo: Nelson Minar/Creative Commons.

May 07, 2016

The sun is shining, literally and metaphorically, on many states located within the Sun Belt. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that more people are choosing to leave the northern regions of the country, especially the Midwest, to settle in warmer climates.

The data includes population estimates and analysis of population changes for U.S. counties and metro areas, providing statistics for total population change, shifts in population due to natural increase, and domestic and international migration between July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University reports.

The general trend shows that Sun Belt counties and metros—specifically, suburban counties in the South—are attracting the most new residents.

Texas, in particular, has been drawing people from other parts of the country, with Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth experiencing more growth than anywhere else in the U.S., gaining 159,000 and 145,000 people, respectively. A little further down the list are two other Texas metros, Austin-Round Rock and San Antonio, each of which grew by about 50,000 people. Combined, the population gain for these four Texas metros is 412,000, the highest total for any state. Florida, California, Georgia, and Washington round out the top five.

The counties that experienced the greatest population growth were also located in the southern and western regions of the Sun Belt. Harris County, Texas, and Maricopa County, Ariz., were the top two. All of the top 30 counties, in terms of population growth, were located in the West or the South.

Further breakdown of the overall population gains shows that Americans are seeking the sun. Domestic migration was also trending toward Sun Belt states with the top 10 counties for net population influx being located in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. Many of the counties that appealed to domestic migrants also appealed to international migrants. However, some places, such as Los Angeles County, had high international migration but actually lost domestic migrants.

On the flip side, among the top 100 metros, Chicago had the biggest net population loss, with a drop of 6,200. Pittsburgh was next, losing 5,000 residents.

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