Fort Worth

The big boom: North Texas’ growth shows no signs of slowing down

Fort Worth exceeds 800,000, according to recent population estimates. Grown in north Fort Worth can be seen at the Alliance Town Center, which sits across I-35W from the Presidio Shopping Center.
Fort Worth exceeds 800,000, according to recent population estimates. Grown in north Fort Worth can be seen at the Alliance Town Center, which sits across I-35W from the Presidio Shopping Center. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth added more people than any other city in North Texas in 2015 and continues to move toward 1 million, according to recent population estimates.

Estimates from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and U.S. Census both have Fort Worth above 800,000.

And while the number of people moving to Fort Worth in 2015 is less than a decade ago, it still shows that Cowtown and North Texas are booming.

“The growth we’ve had for the last 15 years in Texas is nothing short of extraordinary, especially for Dallas-Fort Worth and those corridors north of them as well as Austin-San Antonio and the Houston area,” said Rice University professor Steve Murdock, a former Census bureau director and Texas state demographer.

Of U.S. cities with populations of 500,000 or more, Fort Worth has the second highest percentage growth (2.4 percent), behind Denver (2.8 percent) and ahead of Austin and San Antonio (2.1 percent).

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said the growth comes as no surprise. In the city’s planning, Fort Worth officials are operating under the assumption that the city could reach 1 million people in the next 10 years.

It’s a huge leap for us.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price

“It’s huge leap for us,” Price said. “It’s a reflection of our great business climate and our great atmosphere for families. There’s just a lot of interest in our region. In fact, the whole region is growing rapidly.”

But the growth has its downside, such as keeping up with transportation needs, she said.

“The bad thing is it’s hard to manage, like we saw with the explosive growth in the Alliance Corridor and keep that same feel of Fort Worth,” Price said.

How big is Fort Worth?

The actual population of Fort Worth is open to interpretation.

While the U.S. Census estimate has Fort Worth’s population at 833,319, the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ population estimate has Fort Worth at 806,380.

The Council of Governments’ numbers use housing unit information while the Census Bureau looks at births and deaths as well as domestic and international migration. The Census Bureau uses these three measurements and adds it to the 2010 Census to produce its yearly population estimates.

“I think most governmental entities tend to be more conservative for good reason,” Murdock said. “If you spend government expenditures, you want to be cautious. If you’re a little bit behind, you can catch up the next year. When I was state demographer, we would often use two or three different methods. No one way is right. It’s just a different way of doing an estimate.”

Long before she was mayor, Price was looking at population estimates since she was Tarrant County’s tax assessor-collector. She said one doesn’t value one population estimate over the other.

“I think they’re just different models,” Price said. “We’re going to look at them take a number somewhere in the middle.”

I-35 corridor not slowing down

The Census estimates show almost solid growth along the Interstate 35 corridor from near the Red River to San Antonio.

Along that I-35 corridor, three Texas cities — Georgetown, New Braunfels and Frisco — were in the top 10 fastest growing cities in the U.S. by percentage from July 2014 to July 2015. Georgetown ranked first in the nation growing by 7.8 percent, to 63,716.

The growth we've had for the last 15 years in Texas is nothing short of extraordinary, especially for Dallas-Fort Worth and those corridors north of them as well as Austin-San Antonio and the Houston area.

Steve Murdock, former U.S. Census Bureau director and former state demographer

The growth shows that more transportation planning will be needed on a regional and state level to keep people moving.

“We’re never going to pour enough concrete to keep up with all the growth,” Price said. “We will need to get rail or express bus service to make it easier to get around our region and the state. We’re already talking about that locally with discussions of dedicated express bus lanes and TEX Rail but we need more more of that to get around the state. I don’t think you’re seeing as much talk at the state level as you are at the COG level.”

For now, there doesn’t appear to be anything inhibiting growth around these Texas cities. Murdock also noted that there is large growth in unincorporated areas that could eventually be absorbed by some of these cities. Unincorporated Denton County, grew by 8,680 between 2010 and 2015, while unincorporated Tarrant County grew by 5,070 during the same five-year period.

“If you look at other large cities like New York and L.A., they are much more constrained by boundaries than we are. There are large populations in unincorporated areas around these large metropolitan areas in Texas that don’t belong to any city,” Murdock said.

Census population highlights

▪ Houston added 40,032 residents and is the fourth largest city in the U.S. with 2,296,224.

▪ San Antonio is No. 7 (1,469,845), Dallas No. 9 (1,300,092) and Austin No. 11 (931,830)

▪ Fort Worth is the 16th largest city in the U.S., just behind Columbus, Ohio (850,106)

▪ Arlington is the 50th largest city in the U.S. at 388,125, just behind New Orleans (389,617).

NTCOG population highlights

▪ 7,058,290 people living in 16-county NCTCOG region, the first time 7 million has been surpassed.

▪ 1,928,300 people living in Tarrant County, up from 1,905,430 last year.

▪ 20,000-plus people moved to each of four counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.

▪ No residents added to Tarrant County cities of Blue Mound, Dalworthington Gardens, Everman, Pantego, Richland Hills and Westworth Village.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

(video courtesy of Fort Worth.com)

Tarrant County’s top 5

  • Fort Worth 806,380 (833,319)
  • Arlington 380,740 (388,125)
  • North Richland Hills 66,530 (69,204)
  • Mansfield 61,460 (64,274)
  • Euless 54,250 (54,219)

Source: NCTCOG, Census (in parenthesis)

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