The population in North Texas is nearing 7 million and shows no signs of slowing down, according to annual estimates.
The 16-county region grew by nearly 97,000 people from January 2014 to January 2015, continuing a trend that began in 2010. The North Central Texas Council of Governments, whose tasks include transportation planning and improving air quality for the region, released its annual population estimates Thursday.
The region’s population stands at 6,939,250, including 1,244,270 in Dallas and 792,720 in Fort Worth. Fifteen years ago the region had 5.3 million residents.
“There’s two sides to growth. One side is good because people are voting with their feet and they’re moving to North Texas because of great jobs and great quality of life,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who serves on the council’s executive board. “But as those people move here, it gives us challenges — challenges of public health and transportation and education.”
Dallas and Fort Worth saw the highest number of new residents, with Dallas adding 11,910 people, a 1 percent increase, and Fort Worth adding 11,620 people, a 1.5 percent increase.
The tiny towns of McLendon-Chisholm (population 2,050) in Rockwall County and Melissa (population 6,890) in Collin County saw the biggest percent change, growing by 17.1 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively.
“It’s a general statement on the economy: Things are picking up again,” said Mike Eastland, the council’s executive director. “We just happen to be that magnet that is drawing a whole lot of business and people to us.”
The council of governments, which has tracked the region’s population since 1974, goes beyond the census to include local data such as new housing construction permits and the number of occupied single-family and multifamily housing units in each city, said Tim Barbee in research and information services. That data, which also pinpoints where major industrial and commercial activity is happening, helps the council prioritize transportation projects.
“For us in this agency, it’s very important because we do the transportation planning for the region 20 and 25 years out. We want each year to measure what is happening. We don’t just take a general population and say, ‘Oh, Fort Worth, Dallas or Arlington is this big.’ We start breaking it down into small bits and pieces because we are looking at where road improvements may be needed first,” Eastland said.
Besides Fort Worth, the biggest gainers in Tarrant County were Arlington (1,300), Mansfield (990), Keller (850) and North Richland Hills (610).
Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639
Top 10 cities in North Texas with the biggest population increases from 2010-2015.
1. Fort Worth 51,514
2. Dallas 46,454
3. Frisco 28,521
4. McKinney 23,723
5. Arlington 13,932
6. Irving 12,320
7. Plano 11,299
8. Denton 9,817
9. Little Elm 7,812
10. Grand Prairie 7,214
Source: North Central Texas Council of Governments