Energy boom fueling population growth in Texas, Great Plains


The oil and gas boom in Texas and the Great Plains is bringing the fastest population growth in the country to those areas, according to new numbers released by the U.S. Census.

oil derricks

Midland, Texas, grew at a rate of 4.6 percent between July 2011 and July 2012, the fastest growth of any metropolitan city in the nation. Odessa and Austin-Round Rock were also among the top 10 fastest-growing cities. Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston had the highest numeric increases of anywhere in the nation, with more than 125,000 new residents each moving to those cities.

Among the fastest-growing micro communities – those with between 10,000 and 50,000 population – Williston, N.D., led the nation, growing 9.3 percent in one year. Another North Dakota city, Dickinson, was third after Junction City, Kan., growing by 6.5 percent.

“There are probably many factors fueling this growth on the prairie, but no doubt the energy boom is playing a role,” said Census Bureau senior advisor Thomas Mesenbourg. “For instance, the Permian Basin, located primarily in West Texas, and North Dakota accounted for almost half of the total U.S. growth in firms that mine or extract oil and gas, during a recent one-year period.”

The U.S. energy boom has caught many by surprise, seemingly springing up overnight. The driving force is the technological innovation known as fracking – horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – that allows oil and gas to be extracted from geological reservoirs once considered unreachable.

Outside of growth in energy areas, retirement is fueling the population growth in many of the fastest-growing areas.
For instance, two retirement areas in Florida were high on the list: Destin/Fort Walton at 3.8 percent growth and The Villages, which grew at 3.4 percent. Clarksville, Tenn., the location of Fort Campbell and the 101st Airbourne Division, is also a favored retirement spot, especially with military families.

New York City continues to be the most populous metropolitan area with 19.8 million residents, followed by metropolitan Los Angeles, which just passed the 13 million mark, and Chicago, which is approaching 10 million. Nine metropolitan areas in the United States have more than 5 million residents, and 52 have at least one million.

The 10 Fastest-Growing Metropolitan Areas (more than 50,000 population)

1. Midland, Texas, +4.6%

2. Clarksville, Tenn./Ky., +3.7%

3. Fort Walton/Destin, Fla., +3.6%

4. The Villages, Fla., +3.4%

5. Odessa, Fla., +3.4%

6. Jacksonville, N.C., +3.3%

7. Austin-Round Rock, Texas, +3.0%

8. Casper, Wyo., +3.0%

9. Columbus, Ga., +2.9%

10. Manhattan, Kan,. +%2.8

The 10 Fastest-Growing Micro Areas (between 10,000-50,000 population)

1. Williston, N.D., +9.3%

2. Junction City, Kan., +7.4%

3. Dickinson, N.D., +6.5%

4. Andrews, Texas, +4.7%

5. Vernal, Utah, +4.1%

6. Heber, Utah, +3.8%

7. Elk City, Okla., +3.5%

8. Elko, Nev., +3.5%

9. Pullman, Wash., +3.4%

10. Fort Polk South, La. +3.2%

The 10 Metro Areas with the Largest Numeric Increases

1. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

2. Houston, Texas

3. Los Angeles, Calif.

4. New York, N.Y.

5. Washington, D.C.

6. Atlanta, Ga.

7. Phoenix, Ariz.

8. Miami, Fla.

9. San Francisco, Calif.

10. Seattle, Wash.