Fort Worth

Welcome to Boomtown. Fort Worth is now the 15th largest in the country, census says

With all of the rapid growth in North Texas, it should come as no surprise — Fort Worth is now the 15th-largest city in the country.

With a population of 874,168, Fort Worth jumped past Indianapolis, which has a population of 863,002, according to the Census Bureau's 2017 population estimates.

And with its rapid rate of growth, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price believes Fort Worth could climb even higher next year. Columbus, Ohio, is just ahead of Fort Worth, ranking 14th, with a population of 879,170.

"We're excited about the growth, and we think the great business climate plays a role," Price said. "One of the challenges is how do you manage the growth? You don't want the quality of life to suffer. You need to keep up with your infrastructure."

The 14 largest U.S. cities have not changed since 2016. Houston remains fourth behind New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. San Antonio is seventh, Dallas is ninth while Austin is 11th.

"It is very substantial growth," Lloyd Potter, the Texas state demographer, said of Fort Worth's surge. "The numeric growth is quite impressive. I think in some ways it suggests Fort Worth is picking up its game, so to speak."

In its latest data release, the Census Bureau also said Fort Worth added 18,664 people — the fourth-largest numeric gain among cities with a population of 50,000 or higher between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017.

Dallas was just ahead of Fort Worth in numeric growth with an increase of 18,935, and San Antonio led the nation with a jump of 24,208. Frisco was ninth with a gain of 13,470, and Austin was 12th with an increase of 12,515.

Arlington gained 2,377 people to reach 396,394 and ranked 48th nationally behind Tulsa and ahead of New Orleans, Potter said. With an estimated population of 70,441, North Richland HIlls remained the third-largest city in Tarrant County.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said North Texas' business-friendly environment has played a role in the growth. But he warns that efforts to curb local control by legislators in Austin could eventually slow the boom.

"If the state continues to try and handcuff our ability to act locally, then it would prevent our ability to add things like special infrastructure projects. ... It could also affect business incentives. If we're capped at 2 1/2 percent growth, we can't do things like that."

The South and West dominated the list.

Census Bureau

Houston was the biggest surprise, gaining only 8,000 residents. And the estimates, which ended on July 1, do not take into account the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

"This is way down from earlier in the decade," Potter said. "Houston is just not growing at all. It probably has something to do with the downturn in the price of oil last year."

Texas also was among the leaders in percentage gain, with Frisco leading the nation with an 8.2 percent increase and McKinney a 4.8 percent jump.

Three Central Texas cities also were in the top 15 in percentage gain.

New Braunfels came in second with an 8 percent hike, Pflugerville was third and climbed 6.5 percent, while Cedar Park was 13th with a 4.2 percent increase.

"You've got this I-35 corridor that starts in the northern suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth and runs all the way through Austin and San Antonio," said Steve Murdock, a Rice University sociology professor who is the former head of the U.S. Census Bureau.

"No trend goes on forever," Murdock said. "Certainly, there are infrastructure issues, but I would expect this trend is not going away anytime soon."

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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