Census Data: San Antonio Leads Nation in 2017 Population Growth

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A view of District 1 can be seen from the Tower of the Americas.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Downtown San Antonio as seen from the Tower of the Americas.

San Antonio led the nation last year in total population growth and was the fastest-growing among major metropolitan areas in Texas, the latest U.S. Census Bureau data shows.

From 2016 to 2017, San Antonio’s population grew by 24,408 people, more than any city in the United States, according to numbers released Thursday by the Census Bureau. San Antonio and Phoenix led the nation for total population growth, both adding over 24,000 people during the same time period.

On average, San Antonio grew by 66 people a day between 2016 and 2017, pushing the city over the 1.5 million population mark for the first time.

“This growth is proof that San Antonio is an attractive place to live,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “We will preserve our unique character while welcoming new residents and continuing our successful economic development efforts.”

For San Antonio, that growth represents 1.6 percent, ranking 144th in percentage population growth out of the surveyed cities.

“San Antonio added the most raw number of people for sure, but the rate of growth is still not one of the highest in the country,” said Lila Valencia, senior demographer at the UTSA Texas Demographic center.

“Given that San Antonio has 1.5 million people, it would take a whole lot of people to get added to its population in order or a significant rate of growth to show up,” she said.

San Antonio’s population growth rate placed it in the top 20 percent of fastest-growing cities in the country, outpacing major metropolitan areas such as Boston (1 percent growth), New York City (0.1 percent), and San Francisco (0.9 percent). San Antonio’s percentage population growth also was greater than several major metropolitan areas in Texas, including Dallas (1.4 percent), Austin (1.3 percent), and Houston (0.4 percent).

This increased population growth may create more pressure for the City to deliver services and meet demands for more housing and better transportation infrastructure.

“We are focused on investing in important fundamentals, including early childhood education, water supply, affordable housing, and a modern transportation system,” Nirenberg said.

“We know that the growth will continue to come, and two of the more obvious challenges facing our city are housing and transportation,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley told the Rivard Report via email. “The SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan seeks to address both by clustering new housing in regional centers and along high capacity transit corridors so that new residents have access to public transportation. The community will have to provide at least 500,000 new housing units by 2040 in order to accommodate approximately one million more people.”

Elsewhere in Texas, smaller, satellite cities near major cities experienced the fastest population growth in the country in 2017.

Texas cities ranked in the top three for percentage population growth from 2016 to 2017 out of 769 cities with populations of 50,000 or greater, according to the data. Ten of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. were located in the South – seven of them in Texas.

Frisco, a Dallas suburb, experienced the fastest growth rate in the nation, increasing in population by 8.2 percent between 2016 and 2017. New Braunfels came in second with 8 percent growth, followed by Pflugerville  with 6.5 percent.

New Braunfels also saw the fifth-largest percentage population growth in the nation since 2010, joining three other suburban Texas cities (Cedar Park, McKinney, and Frisco) in the top five for population growth over nearly a decade.

San Marcos ranked 58th, growing by 2.6 percent over the same time period.

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