Fastest-growing cities in the U.S.

Where have populations increased in the past decade?

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by
people in the crosswalk of a busy city street

Within the United States, both natural population growth and the number of people moving are on the decline in recent years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But that doesn’t mean all the country’s towns and cities are experiencing population slowdowns.

A variety of factors lead to population growth in cities and towns across the U.S. In places where the number of residents is growing, birth rates may be higher, death rates may be down, or people may be arriving for better job opportunities or a lower cost of living — or a combination of natural growth and migration may be occurring.

The ConsumerAffairs Research Team recently analyzed census data from 2010 to 2020, the latest official statistics available, to identify the fastest-growing cities both by percentage increase in population and absolute numbers. There were several main takeaways:

  • Among cities with a population of at least 100,000 in 2020, Frisco, Texas, had by far the most explosive growth, with a 79.5% total increase since 2010 — 18% higher than the next fastest-growing city.
  • Texas is home to 9 of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. by percentage population growth between 2010 and 2020. Seven are suburbs of Dallas, Houston or Austin.
  • All 15 of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. by percentage population increase are in the Southern or Western U.S.
  • The city with the largest absolute increase in population between 2010 and 2020 is Phoenix, which grew by over 262,000 people. Phoenix is currently the fifth-largest city by population in the U.S.
  • Five of the 10 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. by raw population are in Texas: In order from highest to lowest population increases, they are San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth and Dallas.
To identify U.S. cities and towns with the highest population growth, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team used 2010-2020 population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s website. For the purposes of our analysis, we included only cities and towns with a 2020 population estimate of at least 100,000. To calculate population growth by percentage and absolute numbers, we considered differences between the 2010 census population and the 2020 population estimate figures in the data.

Population growth by percentage

Here’s a look at the top 15 fastest-growing cities based on percentage increase in population from 2010 to 2020. These smaller cities experienced growth that increased their population by 25% or more in the past decade.

#1 Frisco, Texas

frisco texas skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Frisco

Current population: 209,980 — 79.5% more people than in 2010

Some new Texans may be drawn to the state because it doesn’t have any state income tax. Others may like the generally mild winters. Whatever the reason, a number of cities in Texas have experienced measurable population growth since 2010. Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, is close to big attractions like the Dallas Museum of Art and The Dallas World Aquarium and has a median home price of $550,000. New construction developments are booming in Frisco too, meaning that the city will likely be able to continually accommodate new residents. The unemployment rate in Collin and Denton counties in May 2021 was 4.6%, compared with 5.8% nationally.

#2 Meridian, Idaho

meridian skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Meridian

Current population: 121,182 — 61.4% more people than in 2010

With mountains providing the backdrop to the city’s downtown, Meridian balances outdoor adventure with the amenities of a growing city. Meridian is a close commute to Boise, and more than 500 acres of recreation space are just a few miles away at Eagle Island State Park. The median listing price for homes in the area is $575,000, with new developments providing a range of options for buyers. The four distinct seasons are another major attraction for both families and young, outdoorsy residents. The May 2021 unemployment rate of 2.7% was also significantly lower than the national average.

#3 McKinney, Texas

mckinney texas skyline
Photo courtesy of city of McKinney

Current population: 208,272 — 58.8% more people than in 2010

McKinney, 30 miles north of Dallas, is a suburb with small-town, yet thoroughly modern feel. In the past year, it has attracted more than 15 tech startups and is home to a diverse economy. Residents enjoy Historic Downtown McKinney’s art scene, stores and dining, and the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, with its 289-acre nature preserve and museum. McKinney has an unemployment rate that’s lower than the national average, and the median home price is about $425,000.

#4 Sugar Land, Texas

Current population: 117,875 — 49.6% more people than in 2010

With employment opportunities in Houston growing considerably since 2010, it makes sense that nearby cities have grown in popularity. Sugar Land is home to the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center and the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land, and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Houston. Sugar Land has seen major population growth because it annexed Greatwood and New Territory in 2017. Houses in Sugar Land typically feature ample yard space, and the median listing price is $400,000.

#5 Kent, Washington

Current population: 130,676 — 41.4% more people than in 2010

When Kent was still a young city in the 19th century, it became an agricultural center for a key ingredient in one of the most widely consumed beverages of the era: beer. The exact origins of how Kent became known for its hops industry are hazy, but it became a global powerhouse when a blight destroyed crops in Europe. Though it is known more today for its easy access to both Seattle and Tacoma, Kent still has a thriving craft beer scene that honors the city’s history. The median home price in Kent is $535,000, and the unemployment rate is about 4.8%.

#6 Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Current population: 150,757 — 38.6% more people than in 2010

Nashville is known as Music City, and just 34 miles away is The Bucket City. Murfreesboro earned the unconventional nickname in 1887 when a local woodworking company built the world’s largest cedar bucket, which stood over 6 feet tall. But that’s not what’s boosting Murfreesboro’s population; rather, it’s the proximity to Nashville, the low tax rates and the growing job market. Rutherford County’s unemployment rate as of May 2021 was 3.7%.

#7 Round Rock, Texas

round rock skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Round Rock

Current population: 137,575 — 37.7% more people than in 2010

Round Rock calls itself the sports capital of Texas, and while it's not known for famous teams like the Dallas Cowboys or the Texas Rangers, the city has invested heavily in sports arenas, gyms and fields for youth, recreational and amateur sports. Its economy, bolstered by Dell’s and Emerson’s business hubs, offers a growing number of jobs. Additionally, Austin is only a 25-minute drive away, providing nearly endless opportunities for shopping, attractions and restaurants. The median home price in Round Rock is $425,000, making it more affordable than buying within Austin city limits.

#8 Pearland, Texas

Current population: 123,562 — 35.4% more people than in 2010

Just south of Houston is the growing suburb of Pearland. Its labor force has grown by over 30,000 since 2005, and, considering job growth in Houston, new residents of Pearland should be able to find opportunities across a number of industries. Many homes in Pearland are newly constructed, and the median home price is $329,000, making it one of the more affordable cities on this list. The unemployment rate, at about 7%, is slightly higher than the national average.

#9 Irvine, California

irvine skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Irvine

Current population: 283,700 — 33.6% more people than in 2010

Irvine is a major hub for big business: Over one-third of Fortune 500 companies are based in the city. Beyond that, with warm temperatures year-round, Irvine is a sunny spot to spend your days. The city offers a host of attractions, including a wildlife sanctuary, a 108-foot Ferris wheel and a Hello Kitty-themed cafe. Proximity to Los Angeles doesn’t come with a low price tag, though; the mean home price is $1.2 million. Irvine has an unemployment rate of about 5.9%, right around the national average.

#10 Bend, Oregon

Current population: 101,886 — 32.9% more people than in 2010

Bend’s outdoor attractions, from hiking to whitewater rafting, appeal to people of all skill levels. For years, it’s been a popular tourist destination for weekend retreats, but now more people are choosing to make Bend their permanent home. It offers a more secluded destination away from major cities, and the median home price is about $649,000. The unemployment rate is near the national average.

#11 Edinburg, Texas

Current population: 102,374 — 32.8% more people than in 2010

Sitting right off the U.S. border with Mexico, Edinburg is a midsize city with convenient access to McAllen. Local attractions include preserved wetlands and the Museum of South Texas History. The city’s mayor, Richard Molina, has noted strategic investments in the community and “booming commercial and residential growth.” The median home price in Edinburg is $215,000. The unemployment rate is higher than average, at around 10%.

Nine of the top 15 fastest-growing cities are in Texas.

#12 Midland, Texas

Current population: 147,069 — 32.3% more people than in 2010

Originally founded as a railroad town in 1884, Midland earned its name from its location, about halfway between El Paso and Fort Worth. For many years it was known as a railroad stop and small town, but in 1923 oil was discovered locally. After that, Midland was no longer a train town, but instead an oil boomtown. Since then oil has continued to form the base of Midland’s economy; there’s even a petroleum museum there. Many locals work in the oil and gas industry, and the unemployment rate as of May 2021 was 6.2%. Despite the growing population, homes remain affordable, with a median listing price of $315,000.

#13 Cape Coral, Florida

cape coral skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Cape Coral

Current population: 200,972 — 30.2% more people than in 2010

For many people, living by the beach is just a dream. But with a growing number of new developments and job opportunities, Cape Coral is turning that dream into a reality for some. Residents can spot manatees in Sirenia Vista Park, buy fresh produce at the farmers market and even visit a rum distillery. The median home price, $345,000, remains affordable compared with other Florida towns on the water. Lee County had an unemployment rate around 4.6% as of May 2021.

#14 Denton, Texas

Current population: 147,515 — 30.1% more people than in 2010

Denton is in the far north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Interstate 35 and, like much of the metropolitan area, has grown considerably in the past 10 years — it's one of three Dallas-Forth Worth suburbs on this list, along with Frisco and McKinney. It's also home to the University of North Texas, which is one of the largest employers in the city. The median price of a home in Denton is around $325,000.

#15 League City, Texas

Current population: 106,483 — 29.9% more people than in 2010

Located between Houston and Galveston, League City offers waterside views and affordable home prices, with a median property cost of $330,000. Space Center Houston, a museum and education center next to Johnson Space Center, is just 10 minutes away. The attractions of Galveston Island are also just a short drive away. The unemployment rate in League City is around 7%.

Population growth by the numbers

The cities that attracted the highest numbers of new residents from 2010 to 2020 include well-known metropolitan areas. Here’s a look at the top 15 fastest-growing cities by population number.

#1 Phoenix, Arizona

phoenix skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Phoenix

Current population: 1,708,127 — 262,495 more people than in 2010

Arizona, home to the Grand Canyon, is known for its natural beauty, but the state’s scenic vistas expand beyond the national park. Phoenix residents are just a short drive from Echo Canyon Trail, Lookout Mountain Preserve and Quartz Ridge Trail. Downtown Phoenix has also attracted many businesses in recent years. In a survey on why new residents moved to Phoenix, 30% of respondents cited job opportunities, 20% cited affordability, and 12% cited lifestyle. Its unemployment rate is close to the national average, at 6.2% in May 2021. As Phoenix’s popularity grows, so does its cost of living; the median home price is $395,000.

#2 San Antonio, Texas

Current population: 1,567,118 — 239,711 more people than in 2010

San Antonio is perhaps best known for being the home to the Alamo, but an increasing number of people are finding its affordability and trendy neighborhoods, like the Pearl District and King William Historic District, to be the real attractions. Families also enjoy the zoo, the River Walk and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The median home price in San Antonio is $268,000, and the unemployment rate is about 5.3%.

#3 Houston, Texas

houston skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Houston

Current population: 2,316,120 — 216,669 more people than in 2010

Beyoncé, Kenny Rogers and Shelley Duvall once called Houston home; over the last decade, so have many more. Since 2010, Houston and the surrounding region have experienced 19% job growth. The unemployment rate as of May 2021 was about 6.6%. Warm weather, family-friendly attractions and sprawling neighborhoods have helped boost the population too. The median home price in Houston is $340,000.

#4 Austin, Texas

austin skyline
Photo courtesy of Christopher Sherman

Current population: 995,484 — 205,094 more people than in 2010

Austin has gained a reputation for its popularity among California expats. It has similarly sunny weather and trendy food and shopping scenes, and it has become a second home for tech giants like Facebook, Apple and Amazon. Austin also boasts unique attractions like spring-fed pools and the kitschy Cathedral of Junk. People are definitely catching on to Austin’s quirks, making it one of the pricier places to live in Texas. The median home price is $575,000.

#5 Fort Worth, Texas

fort worth skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Fort Worth

Current population: 927,720 — 186,514 more people than in 2010

There was a time when St. Louis was considered the entrance to the Western U.S., but Fort Worth considers itself “Where the West Begins.” Its attractions include the National Cowgirl Museum and multiple local rodeos. Fort Worth’s schools have been ranked among the best in Texas, and the city is home to major companies like American Airlines. Homes have remained relatively affordable, with a median price of $300,000. The unemployment rate is around 5.3%.

#6 Los Angeles, California

Current population: 3,970,219 — 177,598 more people than in 2010

Los Angeles has long been known for its cross-country allure. Though a fair share of new residents may be on the hunt for fame, Los Angeles is also experiencing steady growth due to the laid-back Southern California lifestyle, tech job opportunities and cultural attractions. For homebuyers, Los Angeles isn’t an easy market, with a median home price of $969,000. The city also has a higher unemployment rate, at around 10%.

#7 Charlotte, North Carolina

charlotte skyline
Photo courtesy of David Flower/City of Charlotte

Current population: 900,350 — 168,926 more people than in 2010

Named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, Charlotte, North Carolina, is currently experiencing some growth in corporate job opportunities. The city is close to the Appalachian Mountains, making it ideal for people looking to balance city and outdoor life. It’s also become known for its food scene, making dining out its own attraction. The median home price is $360,000, and the unemployment rate was 4.3% as of May 2021.

#8 Seattle, Washington

seattle skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Seattle

Current population: 769,714 — 161,054 more people than in 2010

Amazon is Seattle’s biggest employer, and its sprawling Washington campus has been one of the biggest contributors to the city’s population growth. But beyond the tech industry, residents appreciate the mild weather, the scenic Pacific Northwest and the relaxing cafe culture. For people who aren’t big coffee drinkers, craft breweries are also big in the city. Funky housing options are also available, from houseboats to co-living spaces. The median home price is $769,000, and the unemployment rate in King County was under 5% as of May 2021.

#9 Dallas, Texas

Current population: 1,343,266 — 145,450 more people than in 2010

Dallas has a big selection of jobs in diverse industries. Trade, transportation and professional services are some of the biggest industries in Dallas, and its unemployment rate is near 5.3%. Dallas has cultural attractions including art museums and galleries, an opera house and a botanical garden. Sports fans can also catch Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers games. The city’s median home price is $450,000.

#10 Denver, Colorado

Current population: 735,538 — 135,380 more people than in 2010

Denver is known for its outdoor beauty and cultural sights. Larimer Square is a colorful street full of restaurants and shopping, and Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre hosts unforgettable outdoor concerts. Denver’s location means road trips to national parks throughout the Western U.S. are always on the table. The city and its surroundings are also home to nearly 150 breweries. The median listing price of a Denver home is $535,000, and the unemployment rate is right around the national average.

#11 Columbus, Ohio

columbus skyline
Photo courtesy of Experience Columbus

Current population: 903,852 — 116,819 more people than in 2010

Columbus is the most affordable city on this list for owning a home, with a median listing price of $229,000. And it doesn’t sacrifice on attractions — it boasts entertaining nightlife, in large part thanks to Ohio State University. Families also love the city for its zoo and the Legoland Discovery Center. Columbus’s unique neighborhoods, including German Village, leave countless streets to explore. Health care is a major industry in Columbus, which has several large medical facilities. The unemployment rate is lower than the national level, at 4.9% as of May 2021.

#12 San Diego, California

Current population: 1,422,420 — 115,018 more people than in 2010

Southern California is one of the biggest surfing destinations, and San Diego, with Mission Beach Boardwalk and Pacific Beach, is a major surfing city. Beaches are for more than just surfing, though, and the relaxed oceanside lifestyle San Diego is known for is a draw for new residents. Manufacturing and military/defense are some of the biggest industries in the city. The median home price is $790,000, and the unemployment rate was just above the national average as of May 2021, at 6.4%.

#13 Washington, D.C.

Current population: 712,816 — 111,093 more people than in 2010

Washington, D.C., seems to be known mostly for just politics and government. But beyond the White House and Capitol Hill are charming neighborhoods, world-class museums and riverfront parks. Cyclists also love its 60-plus miles of trails to explore. The skyline is unique, with no building taller than the Washington Monument. While nearby suburbs are more affordable, homes in D.C. are pricey, with a median listing price of $610,000. The unemployment rate as of June 2021 was 7%.

#14 Jacksonville, Florida

jacksonville skyline
Photo courtesy of city of Jacksonville

Current population: 920,570 — 98,786 more people than in 2010

Jacksonville has the largest city park system in the nation, sprawling over 80,000 acres. Those public parks include miles of shoreline. Beyond the beach, Jacksonville’s First Wednesday Art Walk is an opportunity to explore the local art scene and enjoy bites from food trucks. The MOSH, or Museum of Science and History, is fun for kids and adults alike. The median home price in Jacksonville is $250,000, and the unemployment rate was 4.2% as of May 2021.

#15 Frisco, Texas

Current population: 209,980 — 92,991 more people than in 2010

Frisco is the only city to make our lists for both population growth by percent and by numbers. The many amenities and its close proximity to Dallas make it popular for commuters and those who want to be part of a smaller community while still being able to access everything a larger city has to offer.

Bottom line

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that, among cities with a current population of at least 100,000, a majority of the top 15 cities with the highest percentage of population growth between 2010 and 2020 are in Texas. Frisco, about 30 miles north of Dallas, has a population that’s grown by nearly 80%, making it the fastest-growing place on the list by far. In terms of sheer number of people, Phoenix is the fastest-growing — but Texas also dominates this list.

Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. United States Census Bureau, “ City and Town Population Totals: 2010-2020 .” Accessed August 16, 2021.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “ Economy at a Glance .” Accessed July 16, 2021.
  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “ The Employment Situation—June 2021 .” Accessed July 19, 2021.
  4. Pearland Economic Development Corporation, “ Workforce .” Accessed July 19, 2021.
  5. Understanding Houston, “ Industry Dynamics and Job Growth in Houston .” Accessed July 16, 2021.
  6. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “ Unemployment Rate .” Accessed July 19, 2021.
  7., “ Real Estate Market .” Accessed July 19, 2021.
Did you find this article helpful? |
Share this article