This story has been updated.
Several Sun Belt cities continued to show big gains, according to the latest census estimates. In fact, of the 15 cities and towns with populations over 50,000 and with the biggest population gains between July 1, 2016 and July 1, 2017, eight of them were in the South, and three of the top five were in Texas. Houston, however, wasn't one of them.
Though the city still saw gains, adding roughly 8,235 people, Houston's growth was dwarfed by other Texas cities and it wasn't enough to surpass Chicago, even though that city lost some 3,825 residents. In a release Thursday, Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city plans to challenge the estimates, particularly because the city's revenue cap formula depends on population. It wouldn't be the first time either. "The city challenged the Bureau's final Houston count for the 2010 Census and the city prevailed," the mayor said. “An accurate count of the residents of our growing city will guarantee a proper funding cushion for local government operations.”
In Texas, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco and Austin all had larger gains than Houston, and that was according to estimates before Hurricane Harvey. According to the city, however, the city's growth continued after the storm. "The city Planning and Development Department estimated in January 2018 that the population had grown by 30,390 people, for a total of 2,349,993," according to the statement.
"The difference between the Census Bureau’s July 2017 growth rate number and City department’s January 2018 growth rate number is about 37,000 people."
Looking regionally, using earlier census estimates of growth in the Houston area by county suggests that the suburban counties are driving much of the recent growth, versus Harris County.
“San Antonio, Texas, tops the list with the largest population gain with an increase of over 24,200 people – an average of 66 people per day between 2016 and 2017,” said Amel Toukabri, a demographer in the Population Division of the Census Bureau, in a release. “That’s a growth rate of 1.6 percent. This growth was enough to push San Antonio's population above the 1.5 million mark.”