Last week, the US Census Bureau released 2015 population estimates by city. To nobody’s surprise, Seattle continues to grow rapidly, having added 15,300 more residents in the year ending June 2015. Seattle has grown by 74,000 residents (12.1%) in just five years. Seattle, for the third year in a row, is among the five fastest growing cities in the nation. Seattle, with 684,000 residents last year, is now the 18th largest city, overtaking El Paso and Detroit.
Seattle’s growth was 44% of the 34,800 residents added in King County in 2015, or 41% of the 179,400 added in King County since 2010.
Among cities larger than 50 thousand population, only Bellevue (+2.4%) and Marysville (+2.5%) grew faster than Seattle (+2.3%) last year. None have grown faster than Seattle over five years. (A few smaller exurban communities have posted higher growth rates).
Bellevue added 3,200 residents in 2015, bolstering its role as a major employment center for the Eastside. Tacoma added 3,300. Everett added 1,200. Nine other cities added over 1,000 residents, including Issaquah which saw a 5.8% growth spurt and almost 2,000 new residents.
Renton, growing more slowly, nevertheless saw its population exceed 100,000, becoming the sixth city in the region to reach this milestone.
Overall, King County grew 1.67% last year. For the second year, Snohomish grew just a little faster (1.72%), boosted by growth in Marysville and in unincorporated areas. Pierce County grew 1.54% last year, with much of that growth in unincorporated exurban communities. While Pierce and Snohomish both lagged coming out of the recession, their growth has now clearly caught up.
Seattle dominates the rankings for several reasons. King County growth is relatively centralized, and Seattle has been the major beneficiary of that. The reasons appear to be a mix of market and policy preferences. Just 4% of King County’s 2015 growth was in the unincorporated areas, vs 52% for Snohomish County and 41% in Pierce. In both those counties, the largest cities generally grew much more slowly than the County as a whole.
Also, Seattle is simply bigger, so that higher growth rates translate to much greater added population. Seattle’s somewhat higher 2015 growth rates translated to as many new residents as the next eight cities.