County News

New population estimates show growth in majority of counties

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Between July 1, 2016 - July 1, 2017, 53 counties gained 10,000 residents or more

The U.S. Census Bureau 2017 population estimates released in March show considerable population growth in counties across the nation. The majority (57 percent) of the nation’s 3,069 counties with county governments saw population increases in 2017.

Between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, 53 counties gained 10,000 residents or more, with six of the top 10 largest-gaining counties from Texas.

Large counties — those with a population greater than 500,000 — continued to experience high population growth. Maricopa County, Ariz. led the large counties with an annual population increase of nearly 74,000 residents.

This trend is consistent with the previous year, when Maricopa County added nearly 80,000 residents, overtaking Harris County as the fastest-growing large county in 2016.

In 2017, the number of large counties increased to 131 with the addition of three counties: Adams County, Colo., Greenville County, S.C. and Spokane County, Wash.

In total, they account for 50 percent of all county residents.  The number of small counties, counties with populations of fewer than 50,000, dropped to a total of 2,117 in 2017 from 2,120 in 2016.

Not surprisingly, large counties were the most likely to experience population growth in 2017.

Among counties with more than 500,000 residents, 89 percent gained population in 2017. About 73 percent of medium-sized counties saw their population levels increase between 2016 and 2017. Among small counties, 48 percent of them gained population over the same period.

Population expansion continued to cluster in the South and the West. Southern and Western counties added the most residents, with Texas counties gaining nearly 400,000 residents in 2017. Florida counties and California counties added more than 320,000 and 240,000 residents respectively.

The top five fastest-growing states — Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Florida —  added over 600,000 residents total in 2017. Overall, 56 percent of Southern counties and 72 percent of Western counties gained population.

In contrast, 50 percent or more of Midwestern and Northeastern counties lost population. Most of these counties — about 568 — lost population in 2017.

Check out NACo’s County Explorer benchmarking tool to find out more and compare your county across several indicators, including 2017 population with other counties, your state, similarly sized counties or the median for the 3,069 counties.


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