DC’s Population Grows 2.7% to 617,996

Photo by PoPville flickr user amarino17

Thanks to all who sent emails. From the census press release yesterday:

“Among states and equivalents, the District of Columbia experienced the fastest growth between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2011, as its population climbed 2.7 percent. This marks the first time it led states and equivalents in growth since the early 1940s. D.C. ranked 35th in percent growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses.”

The Post notes:

“The increase of 16,000 people, if accurate, represents more than half the total gain during the entire decade that preceded it, which was the first decade in half a century that the city did not shrink in size.”

41 Comment

  • Lots of new big condo buildings.

  • Awesome!

    I’m glad I own real estate already.

  • Agree with mj and Anony – no wonder rent prices are so out of control right now.

  • Based on what I see going on in DC, I see this trend continuing. Definitely good news for those who own real estate.

    • GMU just did a study on this. The area will be adding 1 million new jobs by 2030, and will additionally need almost 2 million replacement workers for those that’ll be retiring. Meanwhile the current rate of housing and infrastructure construction will not be keeping pace at all. So those of us who own property in the city are very, very lucky indeed. 🙂

      • Don’t get too comfortable. I’m a homeowner too, and glad to be one, but I hope I get out before the second crash.

        • I’m not sure if or when there will be a crash, especially in DC, but I swear I cringe every time I hear someone get all giddy about their expected real estate gains. Either these folks don’t remember 2007 or they have no idea what actually happened in 2007.

          • I wasn’t being giddy about any expected real estate gains. I’m just happy that the amount I’ll be paying towards housing will be consistent (not counting taxes) for as long as I’m here. I’m sure it’ll be a wild ride for renters, on the other hand.

          • There’s no reason to expect a second crash. Yes, real estate will fluctuate as it always has. Maybe the federal gov’t will shrink a little, and that will cause some contraction in the pool of potential buyers in DC. But what happened in 2007 will not happen again — probably not in our lifetimes, at least. And if it does, it will be completely obvious to anyone who lived through 2007, and those people will cash out.

            Really, the takeaway here is extremely rosy. In my opinion, the only thing keeping home prices as low as they are right now are 1) crime and 2) poor schools. There are still plenty of urban families moving out to the suburbs for their kids’ sake. When that trend is overcome, expect *every* neighborhood in DC to be priced at Arlington/Bethesda levels or greater.

          • Caroline, thanks, yes, from that perspective I see what you mean; I’m in the same boat and am also very happy that I will have some stability in terms of living expense.

            I don’t assume that by “own” people also mean “live in”.

  • I am doing my part. Added a new DC native in 2011.

  • This is great news. its good to see people finally value living in a city, shorter commutes etc. Yes, its pricey but so are long commutes! we have Mayor Williams to thank for this. And yes, I am glad I own real estate too. But I suffered through Marion and bought in a crappy pre-gentrified neighborhood so I have paid some dues in this town.

  • i am unsure about these numbers. this may be an overestimate.

    • I wonder where you live because my observations are in agreement with the census numbers. Rent is going up 5-10% a year, construction is rampant across the city, and i see more people roaming the streets at all hours of the day. If you don’t see the daily changes, you aren’t looking hard enough.

  • If this trend continues, it doesn’t bode well for “Old DC” and the Grays and Browns of the world. I can guarantee you that 2.5% population increase is interested in bikes, dog parks, and Twitter.

    • Many aspects of the “old DC” are terrible (murder capital of the country for one). The fact that this many new people want to live in D.C. is great, that means our city is turning into a better and more attractive place to live. As a DC resident that makes me happy!

    • Bikes, dog parks and Twitter….are those bad things?

      • The Washington Post article from December 22, rightly noted that many of these people are young, mobile, renters. In order to get them to stay later in life and settle here, the DC school system is going to have to get its act together. I know families that would like to stay in the city, but they aren’t going sacrifice their child’s education just so they could walk to Whole Foods. The Washington Post article called the DC public school system, the District’ “achilles’ heel.”

  • Does anyone know WHERE in DC the growth occurred?

    I recall that a huge part of the growth noted in the 2010 Census was actually in downtown areas.

  • At this rate, even many of the newer residents will soon be priced out.

  • For those who don’t own in the District, you should get in while the getting is possible. Like Manhattan, San Fran, London and other cities, DC is going to get a lot pricier. It’s crazy to think you should be able to get a nice condo in one of these places for $200,000.

    Unless you’re going to be here only temporarily, you should look at the less gentrified parts of the city (Shaw, Petworth, anything in NE) where you can get more for your money and where you’ll likely see the greatest return on your investment.

  • Not sure if I believe these numbers. Based on the official census numbers DC grew about 30,000 people between 2000 and 2010. Now the city added half that amount in just 15 months since the Census?

    Very few new buildings opening in the past year. Meaning most of the increase came from existing units housing more people.

    These Census estimates have huge margins of error. They reported Bostons population was up to like 645,000 in 2009, when the official figures came out it was actually 617,000.

  • It’s not accurate. These census estimates should be taken with a grain of salt. Check out the grossly distorted estimates for Atlanta for the years 2000 to 2009, then the let-down reality of the 2010 census.

    Although lot of apartments and condos came online in 2011, the total number of new units — probably in the range of 1,500 to 2,500 — in no way could possibly accommodate 16,000 new residents. Having said that, however, the District is indeed growing, but likely at a somewhat slower rate than what the census is reporting.

    • bfinpetworth

      Well, you also have to take into account abandoned homes getting renovated and reoccupied, and the apparent baby boom going on within the city. At least in Petworth, I’m astounded by the number of young couples having babies in the neighborhood.

      In addition this increase could be partially attributed to the changing demographics of the city and fewer people living under the radar, so to speak. I agree the number is inflated, but more factors are at play other than new units.

      • Well, of course. There is a myriad of factors other than just new construction that affect population growth.

      • I think babies certainly account for some of this population increase. Less people are moving to the suburbs when they have kids. The other thing is I know a lot more two income couples who live in one bedroom apartments, when I first moved here in 04, a lot of those couples had two bedrooms places.

      • Two words: Snowmageddon boredom.

    • There were 30,000 vacant units in DC as of the April 2010 census count, a lot being new residential units that had not filled yet. Now they have.

      Plus DC has 6,500 + residential units under active construction around the city right now with almost 8,500 more likely to deliver in the next 36 months according to the latest DC Economic Indicator report by DC’s CFO.


      And, this only takes us to 2014.

      The period of hyper-growth in DC between 2010 and 2015 is indeed upon us.

  • I’ll echo what a couple others have said: a good chunk of the population growth this year was likely just from the filling up of already-existing housing built over the last couple years but not yet occupied. The Navy Yard area, for instance, had lots of unoccupied housing when the census was taken in April 2010; now those condo and apt buildings are filling up.

    While these new figures are just population estimates, they’re based on pretty reputable adminstrative records on births, deaths, and migration. So even if you don’t believe the actual numbers, you should at least believe the trend, because this is the same methodology used year after year. In the 1990s, more people left DC each year than moved here. Now the opposite is true. That’s a huge deal for the city. It’s not very often that a city the size of DC has a steep population decline for decades and then begins a sizable rebound.

    Also, the reason Atlanta and Boston’s 2010 counts came in so much lower than their 2009 estimates is because those cities successfully “challenged” their pop figures during the decade and got the census bureau to bump up their numbers. They submitted other kinds of data to prove that their populations were higher than what census was showing. But then the 2010 census counts came in right back where the original estimates were.

  • The Washington Post article from December 22, rightly noted that many of these people are young, mobile, renters. In order to get them to stay later in life and settle here, the DC school system is going to have to get its act together. I know families that would like to stay in the city, but they aren’t going sacrifice their child’s education just so they could walk to Whole Foods. The Washington Post article called the DC public school system, the District’ “achilles’ heel.”

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