Welcoming the masses

Dallas-Fort Worth could see biggest population surge in U.S. through 2029, study says

DFW could see biggest population surge in U.S. through 2029

Fort Worth cityscape with Seventh Street Bridge
For the second decade in a row, DFW could have the highest number of new residents for any metro area. Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images

Brace yourselves, North Texans. Following a decade of eye-popping population growth, Dallas-Fort Worth is expected in this decade to once again lead the nation’s metro areas for the number of new residents.

New data from commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield shows DFW gained 1,349,378 residents from 2010 through 2019. In terms of the number of new residents tallied during the past decade, DFW ranked first among U.S. metro areas, the data indicates.

From 2020 through 2029, DFW is projected to tack on another 1,393,623 residents, Cushman & Wakefield says. For the second decade in a row, that would be the highest number of new residents for any metro area, the company says. By comparison, the Oklahoma City metro area was home to nearly 1.4 million people in 2018.

For DFW, the 2020-29 forecast would represent a population growth rate of 17.9 percent, down from 20.9 percent for 2010 through 2019, Cushman & Wakefield says.

As of July 2018, the Census Bureau estimated 7,539,711 people lived in DFW. Under the Cushman & Wakefield scenario, DFW’s population would swell to about 9 million by the time the calendar flips to 2030.

“Dallas is among the North American cities that are grappling with how to improve productivity to further enhance the growth benefits coming from strong population growth,” says Cushman & Wakefield, citing investments in technology and infrastructure upgrades as examples.

Today, DFW is the fourth largest metro area in the U.S., behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The population of Chicago, the third largest metro area, barely budged from 2010 to 2018, according to the Census Bureau. Today, about 9.46 million people live in the Windy City and its suburbs. If the Chicago area’s population growth remains relatively flat, DFW’s headcount conceivably could surpass Chicago’s in the not-too-distant future.

Cushman & Wakefield based its outlook on data from Moody’s Analytics and the U.S. Census Bureau. The company published its findings January 7. The outlook takes into account a metro area’s birth and death rates, along with the number of people moving into and out of an area.

A key barometer for DFW’s growth prospects is the size of its tech workforce.

July 2019 report from commercial real estate services company CBRE found that only the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Washington, D.C., beat DFW for the depth of the pool of tech workers in U.S. metro areas.

“The trend of corporate relocations to the Dallas-Fort Worth area isn’t slowing down,” Clay Vaughn, senior vice president of CBRE’s tech and media practice in Dallas, said in a release. “The favorable business climate and available tech talent in Dallas has made it one of the top startup markets in the U.S., which further incentivizes companies to move to the area.”

The Cushman & Wakefield forecast indicates DFW won’t be alone among Texas metro areas in terms of rolling out the welcome mat for lots of new residents.

Houston is predicted to add 1,242,781 residents from 2020 through 2029, which would put it in second place behind DFW for metro population growth during the new decade, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Houston ranked second from 2010 through 2019 as well, gaining 1,284,268 residents. That’s around the number of people who live in the Louisville, Kentucky, metro area.

As of July 2018, the Houston area was home to nearly 7 million people, making it the country’s fifth largest metro. If the Cushman & Wakefield projection is correct, the metro population would easily exceed 8 million by the end of 2029.

Houston’s population growth rate for 2020-29 is projected at 17.2 percent, compared with 21.6 percent from 2010 through 2019, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s outlook.

Austin, meanwhile, is projected to retain its No. 9 ranking for headcount growth among U.S. metro areas, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The company says the Austin area added 549,141 residents from 2010 through 2019. From 2020 through 2029, another 602,811 residents are on tap. At that pace, the Austin area is on track to have roughly 2.9 million residents at the outset of the next decade.

Cushman & Wakefield envisions a 26.5 percent population growth rate for the Austin area from 2020 through 2029, down from 31.8 percent in 2010-19.

The Cushman & Wakefield report doesn’t include figures for the San Antonio metro area.

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