Census finds metro population up

Baltimore-Washington in top five despite inner-city exodus

April 03, 2001|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area grew by 881,020 people, or 13.1 percent, in the last decade, the U.S. Census Bureau reported yesterday.

The region's percentage growth was greater than all but two of the metropolitan areas among the nation's top 10, the figures show.

With more than 7.6 million people, the Baltimore-Washington area retained its ranking as the country's fourth most populous region - this despite a combined decline of nearly 120,000 in the population of the region's two core cities.

"One of things that it says is that metro areas can grow and grow nicely despite having inner cities that have serious problems," said Donald F. Norris, professor of policy sciences at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The New York metropolitan area, with nearly 21.2 million people, was again ranked first, followed by the Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas.

Also yesterday, the census bureau reported that the country's growth of about 32.7 million people over the 1990s represents the greatest 10-year increase in any decade in U.S. history.

Previously, the greatest increase was 28 million people between 1950 and 1960, "a gain fueled primarily by the post-World War II baby boom," the Census Bureau said in a report.

However, the rate of growth in the 1950s of 18.4 percent was higher than the 13.2 percent in the 1990s, the report said.

The 1990s also marked the only decade in the last century in which all the states gained population, the bureau said.

Population growth in the states ranged from a high of 66 percent in Nevada to a low of 0.5 percent in North Dakota, the bureau said. That marked the fourth straight decade that Nevada was the fastest-growing state.

Maryland's percentage growth of 10.8 was 23rd in the country; its numerical growth of 515,018 people put it at 20th by that standard. With 5,296,486 people, the state was the 19th most populous.

Among the nation's counties, Montgomery County, Maryland's largest with 873,341 people, ranked 49th in population, the bureau reported.

The most rapidly growing counties were located in the non-coastal Western states - including Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Arizona - and much of the South.

"Douglas County, Colorado, near Denver, grew at an astounding 191 percent, the fastest growth of any county in the country," Census Bureau demographer Marc Perry said in a statement accompanying the release of the data.

"Given the regional population trends of the last decade, it is not surprising that counties and cities with the biggest gains are in the West and South while the Northeast had the largest declines," he added.

Overall, the West grew by 19.7 percent, to 63.2 million people; the South by 17.3 percent to 100.2 million; the Midwest by 7.9 percent to 64.4 million; and the Northeast by 5.5 percent to 53.6 million.

As for metropolitan areas, four out of five of the nation's 281.4 million people lived in them in 2000, a slight increase from 10 years ago.

Nearly 85 million Americans, or about 30 percent, lived in metro areas of 5 million or more people; another 14 percent lived in metro areas between 2 and 5 million people.

All metropolitan areas with populations over 5 million - including Baltimore-Washington - grew during the last decade, with growth rates ranging from 29.3 percent for Dallas-Forth Worth to 5.0 percent for Philadelphia.

Las Vegas was the fastest-growing metro area, with an 83.3 percent gain to 1.56 million.

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