It’s still in the top five, though.
Remember all the hubbub around Seattle’s being the fastest-growing big city in the U.S.?
Well, uh … never mind.
It’s true that we held the title for a year, but our reign came to an abrupt end on Thursday with the release of 2014 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Austin, Texas, is now back in the top spot among large cities, as it had been before Seattle’s brief surge.
When I broke the news of Seattle’s ascendancy one year ago, I got hammered by a number of readers for what they perceived as my overly exuberant tone. “More people isn’t something to celebrate, it’s something to lament,” read the top comment on the online version of the story. So for all you latter-day Emmett Watsons, today’s news might come as a relief.
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Sure, Seattle’s rate of growth slowed, but just a little bit. The new figures show the city grew by 2.3 percent from July 1, 2013, to July 1, 2014 — down from 2.8 percent growth the previous year. That slight decline was enough to drop us back into third place, tied with Fort Worth, Texas, among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Denver is now No. 2.
The census data show that Seattle had a net growth of nearly 15,000 people in the one-year period, pushing the city’s population to 668,342 in 2014.
With that increase, we leapfrogged Memphis, Tenn., to become the 20th-largest city in the nation. This is something of a milestone: It’s the first time since the 1960 census that Seattle has ranked among the top 20 cities in the United States.
Memphis helped us out by shrinking a little, making it one of just four cities among the 50 largest to lose population last year. The others: Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland.
San Jose, Calif., had a population milestone of its own in 2014 — it became the 10th U.S. city to cross the million-person mark.
Also in the new data: Seattle grew 77 percent faster than surrounding King County in 2014. This marks the third consecutive year that Seattle has outpaced its suburbs. In fact, half the county’s population growth occurred within Seattle city limits.
Bellevue, the county’s second-biggest city, grew by 1.8 percent, bringing its population to 136,426.
Washington’s second- and third-largest cities grew at a much slower pace. Both Spokane and Tacoma registered less than 1 percent growth for the year.
Krupp, in Grant County, grew at a rate of 2 percent — nearly matching the pace of Seattle. Of course, for Washington’s smallest place, that meant adding just one person in 2014. Present population: 50.