“The District’s total population now stands at 658,893 – a figure not seen since the 1970s”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe Flood

From the Mayor’s Office:

“Mayor Vincent C. Gray today welcomed confirmation that the District of Columbia continues to be an attractive place to live, as the latest estimates from the US Census Bureau were released showing that 9,782 new residents were added between July 2013 and July 2014, keeping Washington, DC on the list of the top positive growth areas in the country.

The District’s total population now stands at 658,893—a figure not seen since the 1970s. The District grew by 1.5 percent over the year. (Note: This is based on the Census Bureau’s revised 2013 population estimate). The previous 2013 population estimate of 646,449 has been revised upward to 649,111. This number means that the city has added 57,000 people or grown an average of 1,120 new residents per month between April 1, 2010 (when the 2010 Census count closed) and July 1, 2014. Based on the revised 2013 population estimate, the District grew by an average of 815 new residents per month between July 2013 and July 2014. For the fourth year in a row, the District remained among the nation’s top five fastest-growing states. This continued growth trend moves the District closer to its Sustainable DC goal of increasing the city’s population by 250,000 residents between 2010 and 2030.

“This data confirms what I have often said over the last four years – that the District is one of the most attractive, greenest, and livable cities in the nation,” said Mayor Gray. “The growing number of new residents from other nations shows that we compete successfully for new residents, new jobs and new industries not only with other U.S. cities but with other countries. I am proud to have overseen continued growth of our great city’s population during each year of my administration.”

“The District’s unabated growth year after year bears witness to the effectiveness of our investments in and policies supporting transportation choices, job growth, sustainability, housing options and new amenities benefitting residents across the city,” said Ellen McCarthy, Acting Director of the DC Office of Planning (OP), which oversees the District’s State Data Center and Census activities.

New Residents – Migration and Births

According to Census Bureau’s data, this growth can be attributed mainly to international migration and births. While net domestic migration dropped off significantly in the twelve months prior to July 2014, international migration held steady and contributed more than 76 percent of the total 4,933 net migrants to the city, another sign of what a global city Washington has become. With births remaining above 9,000 annually once again, the sight of baby strollers throughout the District shows no sign of abating and indicates young families are continuing to choose to live in the District. The components of the population growth show 9,647 births and 5,228 deaths from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014, resulting in an additional 4,419 residents from natural increase (births minus deaths).

Education and Health Services

The education and health services (“eds and meds”) sectors in the District have experienced significant employment growth in the last five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Education Services sector added over 17,200 jobs while the Health Care and Social Assistance services sector added another 7,200 jobs. These two sectors have provided a solid job base and employment opportunities for the growing population. Additionally, Mayor Gray’s Age-Friendly DC Strategic Plan, released in December, aims to assist District agencies and community stakeholders in ensuring maximum livability for aging residents. The initiatives underway through this Plan have complemented economic development in both the education and health services sectors, and should positively impact the lives of the District’s growing population aged 65 years and older.


In addition to the improvements in other quality of life indicators, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has seen continued success in the fight against crime. As a result, the District saw an 18 percent reduction in the number of robberies in 2014, along with a 9 percent decrease in violent crime. With incredible growth in neighborhood development, booming commercial districts, dozens of construction projects and thriving restaurants and night life in the District, new and greater demands have been placed on the city’s police services. To its credit, MPD has responded to these new challenges, expanding engagement with residents and visitors and launching new policing initiatives. In sum, the District of Columbia has become an even safer place for residents and visitors.


While the District of Columbia’s economy has become more diverse and dynamic, public sector layoffs and slow growth in professional services have significantly impacted job growth, according to the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES). The public sector loss of 4,500 jobs between July 2013 and July 2014 was offset by the 12,800 jobs gained in the private sector. Although job growth in the DC region has been somewhat stagnant for some time, in recent months it has ticked up at a slow pace, with the regional unemployment rate averaging 5 percent (lower than the national average). Despite the slow growth total, employers report difficulties hiring qualified applicants in some fields, according to a DOES commissioned research study. This highlights the importance of continuing to improve job training in the city. However, job-seekers with the right professional background can continue to find great opportunities for employment in the District of Columbia.


The demand for residential real estate in the District remains strong, even in the face of a 3.0% increase in median home prices between August 2013 and August 2014, according to the Washington, DC Economic Partnership. The more than 12,000 new units set to be delivered in the next 36 months should contribute substantially to an improved balance between population and housing supply in the District.”

16 Comment

  • Humm… that’s a steady decline in net migration over the past few years. I wonder if this trend will continue with the Feds retracting.

  • Where’s the guy who goes by ‘Joker’ and countless other handles? He was so certain DC population growth had already gone down a ton.

    Dude was wrong, no surprise there.

    • Umm, HStreet,

      This news tells us that DC population has grown at 815 people per month the past year. From 2011-2012 population growth was 1200 new residents a month, from 2012-2013, population growth was 1080 per month.

      Population growth has fallen more than 32% in 3 years since its peak. I don’t know who Joker is, but if he said dc population growth had gone down a ton, he is correct. To go from 1200 new residents a month to 815 a month in 3 years shows is pretty clearly that DCs “boomtown” days are either over, or nearly there.

      • It can be called whatever people want to call it. DC has still added 57,000 residents since 2010 and nearly 10,000 residents since July 2013. As the overall population gets higher, it takes an even higher numerical increase to hold the same growth rate in percentage. We’ll see you in 2020 when DC’s population will likely be over 700,000 residents and will have likely added more than 100,000 net new residents in a 10-year period.

        Also it should be noted last year’s estimate of 646,449 was actually revised sharply upward to 649,111 with the July 2014 update, so the needle has actually moved from 646,449 to 658,893 since the last census update. That’s an increase of 12,444 since the last update from the US Census Bureau. Each year’s update for DC has brought an increase to the previous two year’s of estimates.

        • I really don’t get the reluctance to admit that DCs fortunes have peaked and on their way down, at quite the clip. The kind of rate increase / decrease DC has seen the past 5 years is unheard of in major urban cities, and has historically only been seen in oil patch towns in Texas / Dakotas.

          DC, during the biggest boom it had seen since WW2 (from 2000 – 2008) was adding about 200 new residents per month. Between 2009 and 2010 that rate jumped 600%, to 1200 new residents a month. This was only due to DCs status as only place is the US with jobs. That is no longer the case. The stimulus money is spent, GDP is climbing and the rest of the nation is / has recovered.

          None of this is cryptic, or controversial. DC was a modern day boomtown during the worst recession since the Great Depression. That is now over, and the rate of population growth has apparently dropped more than 30% per year, over s relative short 3 year period.

          • Your statements are not correct.

            You said: “The kind of rate increase / decrease DC has seen the past 5 years is unheard of in major urban cities”

            I say: If you really think that no other major city has grown in the past 5 years like DC has, then you haven’t been paying attention. Three major U.S. cities have grown faster than DC since the 2010 Census. They are Austin, Charlotte, and Denver. Yes, I said faster. And, Seattle is not far behind in growth rate since the 2010 Census.

            You said: “Between 2009 and 2010 that rate jumped 600%, to 1200 new residents a month. This was only due to DCs status as only place is the US with jobs.”

            I say: DC’s growth can attributed to many factors, not just one of them. And, you are incorrect that DC was the only place in the US with jobs. I can pull a list of ten major cities that were adding significant population, even through the recession – some even at a higher rate (see above), some around the same growth rate, and some below.

            You said: “DC, during the biggest boom it had seen since WW2 (from 2000 – 2008) was adding about 200 new residents per month”

            I say: DC was still losing population through most of those years as it was still a depressed city, losing people and jobs to the suburbs. It wasn’t adding 200 new residents per month. By the end of that decade, DC began its turnaround for a number of reasons (i.e. not just the federal government)

            DC has been steadily adding jobs since the recession ended and its economy is doing better than the DC metro area as whole. DC has accounted for about half of the total jobs the entire metro area added in the last year. Since November 2013, DC has added 12,600 jobs. And, its labor force and number of employed residents has increased significantly while the employment rate has remained steady. And, that is significant. And, DC’s amenity base has improved significantly since the early 2000’s, and that is a factor for people moving here and staying here whether you want to admit it or not.

            Let’s look at the components of change for the most recent estimate:

            Total population gain (July 2014): +9,782 from previous year
            Natural Increase (Births minus deaths): +4,419
            International Migration: +3,760
            Domestic Migration: +1,173

            International migration to DC has increased from the previous year, and this migration is not as affected by the short-term whims of the local economy as the people moving from state to state looking for jobs. Also notice that international migration accounted for nearly 40% of DC’s total population gain from July 2013 to July 2014, while natural increase accounted for another 45%.

            Even if domestic migration was zero (i.e. no gain in residents from people moving here from other states), DC would still have a monthly population gain of a little less than 800 residents a month. If you think DC is going back to 200 residents a month anytime soon, you are mistaken. But, I’m sure you will show up at the next census update saying the same thing as you had in years prior, meanwhile DC will be steadily approaching 700,000 residents by the 2020 census. DC has already added 9% to its population and by the time this decade is over, it is likely to finish that with a net gain of 16% in its resident base.

  • Domestic migration is what is slowing down. Less people from around the country moving to DC, maybe even more moving out. Overall rate of growth appears to be slowing too, not precipitously, but certainly slowing. What could be the cause? Skyrocketing home prices, for one. Declining fed government activity, certainly another. Increased urbanization among DC suburbs that offer less expensive living options, still another notch in favor of choosing another nearby community instead of DC. And finally, as all the remarks on POP bear out, DC government’s inability to adequately respond to citizen concerns about crime is yet another. I left the city for this reason, and I know I’m not the only one to do so.

    • Actually, on the last point, I think the suburbs are going to be hit hardest by the regional slowdown. DC’s population growth is already slowing, probably as a result of federal cutbacks, but I bet the city continues to pull residents from other jurisdictions in this area. Not long ago DC had a negative share of the new migrants moving to the area. Now its share is far in excess of the current proportion of residents living in the city. With all the new development coming online combined with the regional slow down, rents will probably soften some more in DC. But the buildings will still be leased up. I doubt that will be the case in most burbs, your anecdote notwithstanding. Tysons seems to be doing ok with the Silver Line opening, but I would not finance a major commercial or residential development in other parts of NoVa at the moment. The city, however, remains a stable place for investment and an increasingly attractive place to live for many.

      • Good point about the ‘burbs taking the biggest hit. It’s already happening to be honest – prices in many of the outter burbs/exurbs are lower now than they were 10-15 years ago. Crime is increasing (see the many stories coming out of Woodbridge, VA for an example). The inner burbs will be fine due to their proximity to the city, but I wouldn’t buy too far outside of the beltway right now.

        • I think we seeing a trend already evident in Europe. In another generation, much of the burbs will be populated with low income and immigrants and the City/inner suburbs will be the most coveted real estate. The upside is that lessons car dependence for more people and is good for the environment. The downside is that the the most economically insecure live even further away from job centers and resources.

  • I am happy to see the trend of babies and young families. And no, not every family flees to the burbs one school starts. More and more are trying to make a go of it at least through elem school with the public and charter schools. We are one of those families. right now, convenience to metro and walkability trumps a kick ass pre school or kindergartnen!

    • Yeah, but they are still fleeing (or going private) when the kids hit middle school age. At least that’s what’s happening with my friends. The elementaries have improved a lot, but that’s tied to the rise of charters (of which, DC has one of the highest proportions in the country). But the middle and high schools are still a mess due to the massive size of these institutions that elementaries feed into. I honestly don’t think DC will improve the middle and high schools until we build more of those schools that are the same size as elementary schools.

      • This. I’ve been hearing about DC’s baby boom since 2000. But families continue to flee once the kids reach 5-7 years old. Whether the DC population increases or decreases doesn’t really matter to me. As long as DC repels middle class families , the city won’t fulfill its potential.

  • Don’t forget the District saw a birth rate spike starting in late June and all of July this year… You can credit that to our friendly representatives in Congress after shutting down the government in 2013. With 800,000 workers laid off, the majority of them living in the area, what are you going to do with all that time? Bong chicka bong bong, that’s what!

    It’s totally true. Pinky-swear. Ask Sibley…

  • bear in mind these data are population ESTIMATES not a census. That’s why there are revisions in already released data. The next real “head count” will be 2020.

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