Monday, April 18, 2005

Harris County #6 in the US for 2003-04 growth

The Census released new stats last week on population growth by county from mid-2003 through mid-2004. I find the numerical rankings much more interesting than the percentage ones, which typically just point out tiny rural counties on the far edge of urban areas that are starting to get exurb spillover. I'm sure #1 Flagler County, FL is struggling with 10% growth in one year, but a mere 6,309 people to bring them to 69,005 is kind of a drop in the bucket in the bigger picture. A few items of note:
  • Harris County added the sixth-most people in the nation at 51,278, which is 1.5% growth to a total of 3,644,285.
  • The 5 counties that added more people are all in the southwestern corner of the US, as people churn through southern California (LA County), and, upon realizing they have to win the lottery to afford a house, move east to the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), Las Vegas (Clark County), or Phoenix (Maricopa County). Alternately, plenty of Californians are cashing out of their highly-appreciated homes and using the proceeds to retire quite nicely in Nevada or Arizona.
  • Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix) added the most people, a staggering 112,233 in one year, which brings them to 3,501,001. They are poised to pass Harris County in the next few years as the third largest in the nation after LA County (9.9 million) and Chicago's Cook County, IL (5.3 million). (Where's New York City, you might ask? Their 8 million people are split among the 5 boroughs, which, strangely enough, are all considered their own counties. It's the only case I can think of where counties are part of a city instead of the other way around.)
  • Ft. Bend County, home of Sugar Land, was the 28th fastest growing the country on a percentage basis, growing 5.4% to 442,620.
  • Montgomery County, home of The Woodlands, was the 36th fastest growing in the country on a percentage basis, growing 5.1% to 362,382.
  • 12 of the 100 fastest growing counties in the country are in Texas, which is second to Florida (14) and tied with Georgia (12).
  • 3 of the 10 largest numerical gainers are in Texas. In addition to Harris, there's Tarrant and Collin Counties around DFW.
  • 8 of the 100 most populous counties in the nation are in Texas, which is 3rd after California (15) and New York (9), and ahead of #4 Florida (7). No surprises there - those are the Big 4 states, holding almost a third of the US population.
  • New metro area population estimates based on these county numbers have Houston as the 11th largest metro in the country.

Whew. That turned out to be a lot longer and more numbers-intensive than I expected when I started the post. Sorry about that. Bottom line: you're not just imagining all those out-of-state license plates you're seeing around town.


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