NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Major Cities Are Losing Population

June 30, 1999

Older, industrialized cities primarily in the Northeast and Midwest are losing residents. But newer cities in the South and West -- many of which are suburbs -- are increasing their populations.

The most dramatic illustration is Detroit, where the population fell below 1 million between 1996 and 1998 -- a 2.7 percent decline. Dallas, on the other hand, gain by the same proportion, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

  • The bureau believes there were 218 cities in the U.S. with populations greater than 100,000 as of July 1, 1998.
  • According to a USA Today analysis, 67 of those 218 lost population between 1996 and 1998.
  • Of all cities, Henderson, Nev., a suburb of Las Vegas, experienced the fastest growth -- increasing in population 21.5 percent from 1996 to 1998 -- while the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas, came in second.
  • Meanwhile, Norfolk, Va., experienced the greatest decline -- 7.5 percent -- with Baltimore, Md., placing second.

Five cities passed the 100,000 mark between 1996 and 1998 -- four of them in California and one in Texas.

Since 1990, 29 cities of more than 100,000 have experienced population declines each year. Eleven of them are in the Northeast, 14 in the Midwest and four in the South. None is in the West.

Among gainers in the over 100,000 category, 77 were in the West and 52 in the South. Only 14 were in the Midwest and eight in the Northeast.

Source: Haya El Nasser and Barbara Hansen, "Suburban Cities Gain on Older Ones in Numbers," USA Today, June 30, 1999.


Browse more articles on Government Issues