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Seattle claims fastest growing city title for 2020

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Seattle added 16,400 more residents between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, bumping up its population by 2.2%. That growth rate in the midst of the global pandemic and widespread civil unrest – made it the nation’s fastest-growing big city in 2020.

Only one other city in Washington with a population of at least 60,000 people grew at a faster pace than Seattle. Kirkland had a 2.6% growth rate during the study’s timeframe, bringing its population to 95,400.

With the latest new residents, the number of Seattleites totals 769,700.

Fort Worth, Texas ranked No. 2, with a 2.1% growth rate, even though it added more residents (19,229) than Seattle. Mesa, Arizona, Austin and Tampa rounded out the top list of fastest-growing big cities.

In analyzing U.S. Census data, Seattle Times columnist Gene Balk reported 15 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities experienced declining populations during the pandemic. Both San Francisco and San Jose landed on the “bottom five” list, losing more than 1% of their populations. Baltimore, Long Beach, and New York City also had sharp declines between the summers of 2019 and 2020.

Balk, also known as “FYI Guy,” noted it is a “little tricky” to understand how Seattle bucked the trend since Census Bureau data do not include any of the components of population change, such as in-migration vs. outmigration, how many moved to the city from within Washington, or “natural growth” (births vs. deaths).

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