U.S. Census Bureau population estimates from 2017-2018 released Thursday show that San Antonio continues to be one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.
San Antonio saw a population increase of 20,824 from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2018, bringing the total population to 1.53 million residents. The increase was the second-largest among the nation’s cities behind Phoenix, which saw its population increase by 25,288 new residents. Fort Worth was third, with 19,552 new residents.
Although this year’s growth was significant, the last census survey put San Antonio at the No. 1 spot among the fastest-growing cities, said State Demographer Lloyd Potter, who serves as interim dean at the University of Texas at San Antonio’s College of Public Policy. San Antonio added around 24,000 new residents between 2016 and 2017. That was the first time in recent history that San Antonio had been among the highest population growth cities in the country, Potter said.
Potter said he thought last year that the city’s growth may have been a one-year anomaly.
“But now, with the second year in the row, we’re up there with the most significant growing cities in the country,” he said.
However, such significant population increases come with implications, Potter said.
“Certainly we have been growing and been managing our growth fairly well, though some people who live in the northern suburbs might argue with that,” Potter said. “But it does create challenges for us. If we’re growing and more than other cities, we have to also grow our infrastructure – roads, power, water. … Then there are issues of schools, and things like that as well.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg took the census numbers as a warning to continue to prioritize things such as street maintenance, economic development, and transportation. He said the City has continued to address affordable housing needs, as well as funding job training and early childhood education.
“These are all issues that dramatic growth will bring to the forefront, and we are working to stay ahead of the curve,” Nirenberg said in a statement.
Nirenberg said he was confident in the city’s direction to manage that growth.
“The census numbers show San Antonio’s rapid growth is continuing as expected with record low unemployment, and the data demonstrate that the course we have set on City Council in the last two years is the right approach,” he said in a statement.
New Braunfels also saw significant growth with a 7.2 percent increase in its population, or about 5,700 new people. It secured the No. 2 spot among cities with the most growth by percentage on the Census Bureau report.
New Braunfels has historically been near the top of that list, and the cities along Interstate 35 typically see significant growth as well, Pottery said. Austin was sixth on the list of cities with the largest population increase, with 12,504 new residents.
“You have Austin growing, San Antonio at the top of the list, and cities all in between in terms of top of list for pace of growth,” Potter said. “You really continue to see this sort of integration of the economies of Austin and San Antonio and really through the I-35 corridor.”
As San Antonio’s population continues to grow, future city leaders must plan to sustain that growth, Potter said.
“That is essentially their job,” he said. “Hopefully they are up to the challenge and able to do that in a way that ensures our quality of life is maintained.”