D.C. region continues population growth;year-long increase fifth among metro areas

The Washington region ranked fifth among metropolitan areas across the country for population growth for a year-long period, according to newly released numbers from the Census Bureau.

The area grew by 87,265 people, a number exceeded only by Houston (137,692), New York (111,749), Dallas (108,112) and Los Angeles (94,386), the bureau reported.

Census officials said the main driver of the increase was people migrating to the D.C. region from other parts of the country, although that has slowed slightly. The region’s growth rate for the year between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013 — 2 percent — was consistent with the past few years, the officials said.

“There’s a magnetism about [the D.C. region] as a place to move,” said Stephen Fuller, head of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. “It has high incomes and is a livable city that is the political center.” And the driver, typically, of its population growth, he said, can be explained by one word: jobs.

“Very few people flock to D.C. to enjoy the weather,” he said. “What we’re seeing is that even with the recession, we kept adding people. They were coming to fill jobs left by those retiring, and they were filling a normal turnover rate.”

The latest census numbers also showed that oil- and gas-rich areas in the Great Plains had some of the fastest growth in the United States during that year-long period. Census experts attribute much of that to the economic impact of “fracking,” an oil-extraction method, in those areas.

“There’s a direct correlation of economic boom in mining and oil and gas extraction and drilling techniques,” said Julius Smith, an assistant division chief in the area of mining and manufacturing at the Census Bureau.

In the Washington region, each of the three major jurisdictions saw an uptick.

The District’s population increased 2 percent to 646,449 in 2013 from 633,427 in 2012. Virginia’s population grew 0.9 percent to roughly 8.3 million. And in Maryland, the population jumped 0.7 percent to 5.9 million in 2013.

Some economic experts pointed out that for the past few years, there has been a relatively flat rate of domestic migration, in which people move from other parts of the country to the Washington region. At the same time, the area’s natural rate of births over deaths has stayed at a high level.

“D.C. is still growing,” said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But things are getting a little better other places, and as a result, there’s not quite as many people coming to the region as before.”

Here’s a look at how population increased in parts of the Washington region:

●Loudoun County added 12,431 people, bringing its population to 349,679.

●Fairfax County added 12,241 people for a total of 1.13 million.

●Arlington County added 3,631 people, bringing its population to 224,906.

●Montgomery County added 12,201 people, bringing its population to 1.01 million.

●Prince George’s County added 8,662 people, bringing its population to 890,081.

●Frederick County added 1,889 people, for a total of 241,409.

I'm a Washington Post reporter, working an early morning shift that deals with crime, lottery winners, traffic, you name it.
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