Fort Worth

May 22, 2014

Fort Worth population gain ranks 13th in U.S.

Several DFW cities set the pace as growth runs wild across Texas.

From Tarrant County to the far corners of the state, rapid growth continues across Texas, and it’s evident in the latest population figures being released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Fort Worth ranked 13th nationally among cities with the largest population gain over the year before: 14,643. The city’s population as of July 1, 2013, was 792,727, up from 778,084 in 2012.

San Marcos, just outside Austin, is the fastest-growing city in the U.S. among municipalities of 50,000 or more. And Houston gained the most residents of any American city except New York.

New growth has sprouted up along major thoroughfares and highways, from Arlington and Mansfield to Grapevine and Saginaw. It’s especially apparent within the narrowing gap between Interstates 35E and 35W in Denton County.

The Dallas-Fort Worth region is booming, and the 2013 population estimates prove it.

Frisco and McKinney join five other Texas cities on the Census Bureau’s list of the 15 fastest-growing large cities. Frisco ranks second, trailing only San Marcos, which also led the list for 2012.

Former State Demographer Steve Murdock said he’s not surprised with Texas’ continued suburban growth.

“It’s normal to see that outward push with the amount of development we’re seeing,” said Murdock, who now leads the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.

Job centers

The Texas cities that made the list aren’t just booming suburbs, either. True, they have their share of outbound commuters every morning, but they serve as significant job centers on their own, said Lloyd Potter, the state demographer.

“I can tell you that when I’m driving into Austin on many mornings, it certainly feels there are a lot of people coming from San Marcos,” Potter said. “But people from San Marcos are mostly working in and around San Marcos. They aren’t dependent on working in Austin or San Antonio.”

That’s also true of Cedar Park and Georgetown in Williamson County, north of Austin, he said.

“What you’re seeing is all the growth of the high-tech industry and associated businesses in that area,” Potter said. “It’s driving a lot of the growth in Williamson County.”

Six of the seven Texas cities on the growth list are close enough to a big city for commuting. Then there’s Odessa, the West Texas town of about 110,000 that, along with neighboring Midland, has seen a rush of growth over the past few years thanks to the Permian Basin oil and gas fields.

“There’s a lot of ‘fracking-related’ growth there,” Potter said, referring to hydraulic fracturing, the special technique used to free oil and gas from fields once considered unproductive.

Small-city growth

In Dallas-Fort Worth, the fastest-growing cities tend to be on the smaller side, though none are quite as tiny as Dish, the Denton County town that changed its name from Clark some years back after reaching a marketing agreement with Dish Network.

In a repeat appearance as the fastest-growing city in the region, Dish saw its population soar 16 percent from July 2012 to July 2013 — from 262 to 304, the census data showed. Since the 2010 Census, when Dish was home to 201 people, the population has increased 51.2 percent.

Prosper holds down second place in regional growth, up from about 9,500 in 2010 to almost 13,000 in 2013, a growth rate around 37 percent, followed by Trophy Club, Melissa and Fate, with around 10,000 residents or fewer.

Texas’ largest cities don’t add population at nearly the same rates as these fastest-growing midsize cities, none larger than 150,000 people, according to census figures.

But in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, the raw numbers are pretty impressive, up by about 15,000 to more than 35,000 people from July 1, 2012, to July 1, 2013.

Houston, at almost about 2.2 million people the biggest of the bunch, added the most — 35,202 — second only to much larger New York and more than Los Angeles, home to almost 4 million people.

In the smaller cities — Frisco and McKinney, for example — much of the growth comes from migration from other states and other parts of Texas, Potter said.

In the large cities, the biggest driver of growth is “natural increase,” the number of births minus the number of deaths.

“One of the things everyone tends to believe by default is growth is being exclusively driven by migration,” Potter said. “But in the big cities — Dallas, Houston, San Antonio — a larger percentage is being driven by natural increase.

“It’s the suburban areas where most is driven by migration.”

Tarrant County growth

Several cities in Tarrant and surrounding counties saw superlatives in the new numbers.

• Trophy Club’s population topped 10,000 for the first time, reaching 10,459, up from 9,645 the year before.
• Grapevine’s topped 50,000, at 50,195, up from 48,495 in 2012.
• Mansfield broke through 60,000 for the first time, at 60,782, up from 53,224.

Among the area’s largest cities:

• Arlington’s population was listed at 379,577, up from 376,215 in 2012.
• North Richland Hills was up to 67,317 from 65,327.
• Euless grew to 53,224 from 52,815.
• Bedford rose to 48,592 from 48,245.
• Haltom City was up to 43,580 from 43,347.
• Keller increased to 42,907, from 41,957.

To the north, Denton continued its substantial growth as its population hit 123,099, up from 121,460 in 2012.

Staff writer John Gravois contributed to this report, which includes material from The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.

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