Northwest Arkansas was the 13th fastest-growing metro area in the United States between 2010 and 2019 and the 24th fastest growing metro from 2018 to 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among U.S. counties with at least 20,000 people, Benton County was the 40th fastest growing county between 2010 and 2019 and the 73rd fastest-growing county from 2018 to 2019.
The Census Bureau released Thursday (March 26) updated population estimates as of July 1, 2019, for 3,142 counties and 384 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States. This will be the last set of estimates the agency releases for the counties and metro areas before the 2020 Census, from which data is expected to be released starting later this year and into 2021.
Between 2010 and 2019, the population of Northwest Arkansas, or the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area, increased 21.5%, or by 94,783, to 534,904. The metro is the 107th largest in the United States and had the 44th highest numerical population increase between 2010 and 2019.
From 2018 to 2019, the population rose 1.8%, adding 9,665, or about 26 people per day. It had the 43rd highest numerical population increase from 2018 to 2019. The metro area includes Benton, Madison and Washington counties, and formerly included McDonald County, Mo., but has since been removed, and starting with the new estimates, is no longer included in the population of the metro area.
“Northwest Arkansas is just booming in population and economic growth,” said Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster for the Arkansas Economic Development Institute (AEDI) at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “That’s part of the makeup of the state’s economy. That’s where we are seeing a large share of the growth in the economy and the population.”
Between 2010 and 2019, the population of Benton County increased 26.1%, or by 57,573, to 279,141. Over that period, Benton County had the 91st highest numerical increase in population among U.S. counties. From 2018 to 2019, the county population rose 2.5%, adding 6,875, or nearly 19 people per day. Over that period, Benton County had the 62nd highest numerical increase in population among U.S. counties.
Between 2010 and 2018, only 26 of the 75 counties in the state had positive growth rates, Pakko noted. Only 28 counties in 2018 had positive growth, and he expected 2019 data to follow that trend.
“One interesting trend we have seen this decade is widespread population decline among smaller counties, while larger counties tended to have population growth,” said Christine Hartley, a demographer with the Population Division of the Census Bureau. “Three out of four counties with a population of less than 10,000 in 2010 had even smaller populations in 2019. At the same time, three out of four counties of 50,000 or more were larger in 2019 compared to 2010.” The pattern among larger counties was more evident in the West and South.
The Villages, Fla., metro area was the fastest-growing U.S. metro between 2010 and 2019 as the area’s population rose 41.7% to 132,420. The St. George, Utah, metro area was the fastest-growing metro from 2018 to 2019, with its population rising 3.5% to 177,556. Between 2010 and 2019, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, metro area had the largest numeric population growth, increasing 19%, or by 1.2 million. Of counties with a population of at least 20,000, Williams County, N.D., was the fastest-growing county, increasing 67.8%, or by 15,190, between 2010 and 2019.
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