May 28, 2024 - News

San Francisco ranks No. 50 on fastest-growing cities list

The bar chart ranks U.S. cities with at least 250k people by change 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. The population of San Francisco increased by 0.2%.
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

San Francisco's population is growing, but more slowly than some other parts of the country, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.

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

  • A growing population can boost commercial activity, foster new businesses and increase tax revenue — three keys to stimulating growth in the local economy, San Francisco's chief economist, Ted Egan, previously told Axios.

By the numbers: San Francisco ranks No. 50 among the 91 cities with at least 250,000 residents on the Census Bureau's analysis of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

  • San Francisco's population grew just 0.15% from 2022 to 2023 and now has 808,988 residents, according to recent Census data.
  • This is still well below its 2020 population of 870,518.

Zoom out: Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Oakland (No. 38) ranked ahead of San Francisco, growing 0.45% from 2022 to 2023, and now has 436,504 residents.

  • San Jose (No. 73) had negative growth of -0.25% during the period and now has 969,655 people.
  • Within California, Irvine at No. 28 is the fastest-growing city, with a population gain of 0.6% since 2022. Long Beach (No. 86) is the slowest (-0.8%).
  • Atlanta had the highest growth nationally, increasing 2.42% during the period.

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

  • "Exurbs have sometimes been among the most rapidly growing communities, but this appears to be even more true now than before the pandemic," Census Bureau demographer Luke Rogers said in a recent report.

Case in point: Lathrop, Calif., though technically outside of the Bay Area, exemplifies this trend.

What to watch: San Francisco is expected to have population growth by 2100 partly because of its density and its relative resilience to climate change, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

  • Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago project a population of 873,965 in 2100, according to the Chronicle.
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