No Limits

Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Houston Just Keeps Getting Bigger

Houston and Harris County led the nation in population growth last year.

By Katharine Shilcutt March 24, 2016

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We cleaned the place up a bit for y'all newcomers.

Image: Shutterstock

Traffic, humidity and swampy sprawl be damned: The rest of the nation continues to find reasons to love Houston despite our few peccadilloes, moving here in ever greater numbers—even as much of the prior year's civic climate was beset by falling oil prices and general economic instability.

The U.S. Census reported today that Houston added more people last year than any other metro area—nearly 160,000 people between July 1, 2014 and July 1, 2015. New York City and Los Angeles each added an average of 86,000 new residents, while Chicago—still the nation's third-largest city—didn't make the list. Nashville, however, came in at No. 20 with a little over 36,000 new Music City denizens.

But wait, there's more! Not only did Houston lead the pack when it came to our nation's cities, Harris County also topped its own leaderboard, adding 90,000 people in that same time period, more than any other county in the U.S. Fort Bend County wasn't far behind; as the fastest-growing county in the nation, it grew 4.3 percent between 2014 and 2015, with a current population of 716,087. All together, eight of the nation's fastest-growing counties were right here in Texas, adding a total of 306,736 newcomers to the state since last year.

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Even the U.S. Census Bureau knows everything's bigger here.

That means an extra 300,000 people who'll soon automatically clap along after someone yells out, "The stars at night are big and bright!" But it also means that Texas continues to lead the nation in population growth, which is both exciting and daunting, especially for a state that struggles with an overburdened, underfunded public education system and aging infrastructure.

Elsewhere across the nation, other cities and states are undoubtedly focused on struggles of a different kind: Cook County, the nation's second-most populous, experienced its first population decline since 2007, losing 10,488 people last year, bringing the total Chicago metro area population to 9.73 million. Philadelphia, meanwhile, slipped even further, losing its ranking as the sixth-largest metro area in the U.S. Its replacement? Washington D.C., which added over 63,000 people last year.

We've got our eye on you, D.C. You and your traffic, humidity and swampy sprawl.

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