FORT WORTH, Texas — Fort Worth is now the 12th largest city in the United States, and is closing in on 1 million residents, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.

What You Need To Know

  • Fort Worth grew by 24% from 2010 to 2020

  • A huge swath of that growth came in the city center

  • Growth in the city center has pushed poorer people out to the suburbs

  • These growth patterns hold true all over the state's larger cities

The city had 927,720 residents in 2020, up 24% from 748,419 residents in 2010, according to estimates published in June.

From 2019-2020 — even while much of the nation was shut down by the COVID pandemic — Fort Worth’s population grew 2.1%, the highest rate among large cities, according to Census data. Fort Worth’s addition of 19,229 people during the past year was the third largest increase behind Phoenix, which added 25,194 residents (1.5% growth) and San Antonio, which added 19,862 residents (1.3%).

One of the more surprising aspects of this growth is where it’s happening. The fastest-growing part of the city is in far North Fort Worth, where land is cheap and plentiful. That isn’t likely to change any time soon.

The other large surges in growth all came from the city center, the census shows. The Bureau’s maps of Fort Worth are all divided into tracks.

The West 7th and Lindwood areas of west-central Fort Worth grew from 1,316 residents in 2010 to 4,824 residents in 2020 — an increase of 266%.

The next highest census district was the downtown-Upper Westside zone, which spurted from 4,359 people a decade ago to 8,856 last year, which represents a 103% growth.

The Near Southside, Panther Island (near downtown), and the Rock Island areas each grew between 36 and 65%.

The cost of living in the city center is pushing poorer people to the suburbs

The difference in cost between North Fort Worth and these enclaves is staggering. One recent study by SmartAsset found that upper-middle-class people with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) between $100,000 and $200,000 are flocking to Texas.

“With no state income tax, Texas has been a hotspot for upper-middle-class people over the past several years,” the study reads. “Most recently, there was a net migration of 8,700 upper-middle-class people to the state from 2018 to 2019.”

This migration to the middle of the city has pushed economically disadvantaged people out to the suburbs, according to another study.

Over the last decade, people living below the poverty level — $22,000 for a family of four — have surged into suburban neighborhoods in most major metropolitan areas, including Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, at a rate more than twice that of urban centers.

According to “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America,” a report released by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, the poor population in the nation’s suburbs increased by 64% over the last decade, with 3 million more poor residents in the suburbs than in the big cities.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, the number of poor people living in the suburbs more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. The number went from 224,443 to 474,023, an increase of 111% and the 12th-highest rate of the 95 metropolitan areas in the survey. The growth rate in the region’s cities was far lower — 67.9% — though poverty rates remain higher in the cities — 23.3% — compared with 11.5% in the North Texas suburbs.

The move to the suburbs is largely the result of decades of change and growth, the authors say. The suburbs became the fastest-growing and largest centers for impoverished residents even before the latest recession.

But that certainly added to the impact, mostly by providing a huge pool of available housing for those eager to accept government vouchers to help pay their mortgages.

Dallas-Fort Worth is expected in this decade to once again lead the nation’s metro areas for the number of new residents.

New data from commercial real estate services company Cushman & Wakefield shows that from 2020 through 2029, DFW is projected to tack on another 1,393,623 residents, Cushman & Wakefield says. For the second decade in a row, that would be the highest number of new residents for any metro area, the company says. By comparison, the Oklahoma City metro area was home to nearly 1.4 million people in 2018.

For DFW, the 2020-29 forecast would represent a population growth rate of 17.9%, down from 20.9% for 2010 through 2019, Cushman & Wakefield said.

As of July 2018, the Census Bureau estimated 7,539,711 people lived in DFW. Under the Cushman & Wakefield scenario, DFW’s population would swell to about 9 million by the time the calendar flips to 2030.

The rest of Texas is also booming

The Cushman & Wakefield forecast indicates DFW won’t be alone among Texas metro areas in terms of rolling out the welcome mat for lots of new residents.

Houston is predicted to add 1,242,781 residents from 2020 through 2029, which would put it in second place behind DFW for metro population growth during the new decade, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Houston ranked second from 2010 through 2019 as well, gaining 1,284,268 residents. That’s around the number of people who live in the Louisville, Ky., metro area.

As of July 2018, the Houston area was home to nearly 7 million people, making it the country’s fifth-largest metro. If the Cushman & Wakefield projection is correct, the metro population would easily exceed 8 million by the end of 2029.

Houston’s population growth rate for 2020-29 is projected at 17.2%, compared with 21.6% from 2010 through 2019, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s outlook.

Austin, meanwhile, is projected to retain its No. 9 ranking for headcount growth among U.S. metro areas, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The company says the Austin area added 549,141 residents from 2010 through 2019. From 2020 through 2029, another 602,811 residents are on tap. At that pace, the Austin area is on track to have roughly 2.9 million residents at the outset of the next decade.

Cushman & Wakefield envisions a 26.5% population growth rate for the Austin area from 2020 through 2029, down from 31.8% in 2010-19.

The Cushman & Wakefield report doesn’t include figures for the San Antonio metro area.