Mar 25, 2024 - News

D.C. population growth outpaces Beltway suburbs

Change in population, 2020 to 2023
Data: U.S. Census Bureau. Map: Axios Visuals

D.C. grew faster than the neighboring counties over the past three years, posting a 1.2% gain in population.

The big picture: D.C.'s population boom has slowed since the beginning of the pandemic, but its population inched up to 678,972 as of July 2023, per new census data.

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser is working on a five-year "comeback plan" to grow the city to 725,000 residents by 2028. That includes building 9,400 new homes downtown for 15,000 people.

By the numbers: Arlington County lost 2% of its population over the same period (July 2020 - July 2023). Prince George's County lost 1.9%.

  • Fairfax County lost 0.6% and Montgomery County lost 0.2%.

Zoom in: D.C. Policy Center analyzed census data between 2022 and 2023 and found that the District's population gains from international migration were offset by those who moved to other places in the country.

  • Some exurbs beat the District and Beltway suburbs.
  • "Spotsylvania County and Frederick County posted the fastest growth rates in the region — at 19 per 1,000 people and 20 per 1,000 people, respectively," per the think tank.
  • D.C. and counties closest to it benefited from international migration, while counties farther out saw growth thanks to domestic migration.

Zoom out: The U.S. overall grew 1% in population between 2020 and 2023.

The fine print: This data is the most recent release of the annual Population Estimates Program, which estimates the population between censuses.

  • It relies on administrative records and other data sources to calculate annual changes in population and housing.
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