Santa Cruz, California was the second-fastest-growing city in the country between July 2021 and July 2022, according to detailed estimates just released by the U.S. Census Bureau. And in that second year of the pandemic, San Francisco fell off the list of fastest-shrinking cities.
In March, the Census Bureau already released county-level data for the period from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2022, which showed that San Francisco's population was nearly flat during that period — with a drop of just 2,800 people, for a total estimated population of 808,437. That was in stark contrast to the "pandemic exodus" of the year before, when the city was estimated to have lost 55,000 people.
At San Francisco's peak of the last decade, the city had an estimated 2019 population of 874,961, which was revised down slightly in the 2020 Census to 873,965. That figure still would have put us behind slightly larger cities like Indianapolis and Charlotte — the latter of which just edged into the top 10 largest cities in the nation for the first time.
The new Census numbers — which the Bureau is calling "micro estimates" — show that the fastest-growing cities in the nation as of July 2022 were Georgetown, Texas; Santa Cruz, California; Kyle, Texas; and Leander, Texas, all of which experienced upwards of 10% population growth from mid-2021 to mid-2022.
The larger pandemic trends across the country have been the shrinking of big coastal cities — and Chicago — where many people were allowed to work remotely, and the growth of so-called "Sun Belt" cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Phoenix. Fort Worth and Phoenix each welcomed over 19,000 new residents between 2021 and 2022; and Charlotte and Jacksonville each saw around 15,000 new residents.
As the SF Standard notes through their own data mining, San Francisco fell off the list of the fastest shrinking U.S. cities after that big pandemic dip in 2020-2021. The overall biggest rate of decline of any city (with pop. 50,000 or above) between 2021 and 2022 was Jackson, Mississippi, which lost 2.5% of its population (or 3,700 people). St. Louis, New Orleans, and a handful of cities in Utah also saw significant declines during that year, as did Livermore (-2.0%), Union City (-1.9%), and San Leandro (-1.9%) here in the Bay Area.
The largest metro areas remain Los Angeles (19.6 million), New York (12.9 million), Chicago (9.4 million), Dallas-Fort Worth (7.9 million), and Houston (7.3 million). And, per the Census, "The Villages, FL metro area was the fastest-growing U.S. metro area between 2021 and 2022, increasing by 7.5%."
In terms of city-proper populations, San Jose just fell off the top 10 of the most populous, as Hoodline reported today. The South Bay city was edged off the list by fast-growing Austin and Jacksonville, and pushed to #12.
San Francisco continues to rank 17th on that list, followed by Seattle (18th), Denver (19th), and Oklahoma City (20th).
Related: Census Finds SF Population Was Nearly Flat In Second Year of Pandemic
Photo: Josh Hild