May 16, 2024 - Economy

Exurb boom: America's fastest-growing cities

The bar chart shows the U.S. cities with the greatest percentage changes in population from 2022 to 2023. Atlanta, Fort Worth, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C., experienced the most growth, while New Orleans, St. Louis, and Philadelphia saw the largest declines.
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Atlanta, Fort Worth and Raleigh are America's fastest-growing cities with more than 250,000 residents as of 2023, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data out today.

Why it matters: Late-pandemic shifts in where Americans live are still shaking out — with big implications for cities seeing massive growth or rapid decline.

By the numbers: Atlanta grew by 2.42% between 2022 and 2023, and now has 510,823 residents.

  • Fort Worth grew by 2.23% with 978,468 residents in 2023, and Raleigh grew by 1.87%, with 482,295 residents.

Losers: New Orleans (shrank -1.56%, to 364,136 residents), St. Louis (-1.55%, to 281,754 residents) and Philadelphia (-1.04%, to 1,550,542 residents).

The big picture: Southern cities dominate the list of the fastest-growing big metros, with Florida and Texas alone accounting for eight of the top 20.

  • That reflects a continued trend of Americans flocking to areas of the country that face some of the greatest climate risks.

Between the lines: Some of America's fastest-growing places are not cities themselves, but their outer suburbs, or "exurbs."

  • "Fewer of the fastest-growing places between 2022 and 2023 were inner suburbs than in 2019 ... and more were on the far outskirts of metro areas — 30, 40 and even more than 60 miles away from the largest city's downtown," according to a Census Bureau analysis.
  • That's a particularly pronounced phenomenon in the Phoenix metro area, where four exurbs made up a third of the broader area's population growth in 2023, the Bureau says.
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