Fort Worth Economic Development Partnership

D-FW leads all metro areas in population growth, adding 152,000 new residents

D-FW grew by the size of a large suburb last year, building on the expansion that saw the region surpass 8 million in population at the start of 2023.

For Leigh Ann Ripka, the stars seemed to align.

The Lafayette, La., native fell in love with North Texas well before she moved in June 2023.

She spent half her time in Dallas for work, but the travel back and forth was wearing down the single mother. She wanted different education opportunities for her young son, too. When a new job offer came that would put her in Dallas full time, Ripka jumped.

“It was really just magical,” said Ripka, a 36-year-old vice president of corporate development at B&H Engineers.

Ripka is part of a booming trend that saw Dallas-Fort Worth lead all metro areas in population growth in 2023, according to newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. D-FW grew by the size of a large suburb last year, adding over 152,000 new residents.

The one-year population growth is equivalent to adding a city the size of Mesquite to the region. It built on the expansion that saw D-FW surpass 8 million in population at the start of 2023.

D-FW’s population now stands at 8.1 million, according to the estimates released Thursday that provide a first look at demographic changes across the country in 2023.

The Houston metro area wasn’t far behind D-FW in attracting new residents. It added more than 139,000 people over the same period, raising the Bayou City’s population to 7.5 million.

Both Texas cities outdistanced the third-place Atlanta metro area, which added just over 68,000 new residents last year.

The Austin metro area added just over 50,000 people to rank seventh. The San Antonio area was ninth with 48,071 new residents.

Texas counties also claimed eight of the top 10 spots for most new residents, with Harris County gaining 53,000 people to lead the way. Collin County added over 36,300 people. Denton and Tarrant counties attracted over 27,000 new residents each.

For the first time, Denton County eclipsed the 1 million mark in population.

The new census data relies on net migration — people moving in minus people moving out — and changes in births and deaths to offer a perspective on where people are leaving and where they’re going. Updated race and ethnicity population estimates will be released in June.

Harris, Dallas and Tarrant counties all were among the nation’s leaders in births outnumbering deaths.

Overall, Dallas County grew by about 5,000 people from 2022 to 2023, clocking in at 2,606,358. Dallas’ growth is largely a result of international migration to the county outweighing residents moving out.

“Actually, Dallas is kind of an anomaly,” said Lloyd Potter, state demographer at the Texas Demographic Center. “Dallas County is still growing, but it’s growing because of international migration and natural increase [births] more than domestic migration.”

In terms of percentage growth, Kaufman and Rockwall counties to the east of Dallas topped the nation among counties with 20,000 or more people. Kaufman County’s growth rate was 7.6%, while Rockwall County’s was 6.5%.

Lauren Bowers, chief of the Census Bureau’s population estimates branch, said migration patterns were especially noticeable at the county level last year.

“Areas which experienced high levels of domestic out-migration during the pandemic, such as in the Midwest and Northeast, are now seeing more counties with population growth,” Bowers said in a statement. “Meanwhile, county population growth is slowing down out west, such as in Arizona and Idaho.”

For the first time since 2020, more counties in the Midwest had population gains than losses. But Sunbelt counties continue to shine, with two-thirds posting population gains.

While the Census Bureau doesn’t speculate on the causes of population changes, North Texas is among the nation’s leaders in business attraction.

In 2023, D-FW trailed only Chicago for the most business relocation or expansion projects with 452 in Site Selection magazine’s annual tally. D-FW employers added just under 75,000 jobs to their payrolls last year based on new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the five-year period from 2018 to 2023, Texas attracted 209 headquarters relocations, the most in the nation. Of those, 66 landed in Austin, 32 in D-FW and 25 in Houston, according to tracking by Dallas-based commercial real estate firm CBRE.

To Potter, North Texas’ growth, especially in Collin and Denton counties, is consistent with job opportunities brought by company relocations, with many positions requiring elevated educational attainment.

“People are willing to move to Texas and to the metropolitan areas and some other places in Texas to take those jobs,” Potter said.

The region has emerged as a mecca for financial services companies and jobs over the past decade. Research from commercial real estate services firm JLL shows the region was second to New York in job postings between 2021 and 2023.

D-FW totaled 64,191 job postings to New York’s 129,072 during the two years. Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America all are building new campuses or expanding their workforces in North Texas.

There’s no indication the flood of new residents is slowing down.

When Evan Young moved to Forney earlier this year, he was drawn by the region’s sheer size.

The 25-year-old and his wife, Kalli, left a small western Massachusetts town behind to help start a local office for his friend’s solar power company.

“We moved here kind of for the reason that there are so many people here,” Young said. “For my job, it’s door to door. So having more people to talk to means I can provide for my family better.”

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