Des Moines is the fastest growing city in the Midwest, Census says
The metro area's population increased 2 percent in the 12-month period ending July 2016, according to annual Census estimates released Thursday. Aaron Young/The Register
Des Moines added roughly 33 residents a day during the past year, making it the fastest growing city in the Midwest, according to new Census Bureau data.
The metro area's population increased 2 percent in the 12-month period ending July 2016, according to annual Census estimates released Thursday. That outpaced every city in the region and was only eclipsed by cities in booming parts of the south, Mountain West and Pacific Coast.
During the past year, greater Des Moines added 12,145 residents to grow to a total population of 634,725, the Census data show. The Des Moines metropolitan area includes Polk, Dallas, Warren, Madison and Guthrie counties.
Local leaders, who have been eager to recruit more young people and skilled workers to the region, applauded the news and credited the city's strong job market.
"Over the past decade, greater Des Moines has out-performed Kansas City, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, not only in population growth, but in job growth and GDP," said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, a chamber of commerce collective.
Byers noted that Des Moines has seen several local companies expand and outside companies invest in Des Moines in the past few years.
"That continued population growth is further evidence that we have some very exciting momentum on the economic development front," he said.
Des Moines was tied as the 34th fastest growing metro area nationwide. Its population growth was nearly triple the national average of seven-tenths of 1 percent.
Iowa as a whole was a mixed bag. Several metro areas saw growth, including Iowa City (1.2 percent), Omaha-Council Bluffs (1.1 percent) and Cedar Rapids (0.7 percent). Several other metros shrunk, including Cedar Falls (-0.4 percent) and Dubuque (-0.3 percent).
The second-fastest growing Midwestern metro was Fargo, N.D., which increased in population 1.9 percent.
While it led the Midwest, Des Moines was outpaced by several booming cities known for attracting hordes of young people, including Austin, Texas, (2.9 percent); Raleigh, N.C., (2.5 percent); and Charleston, S.C. (2.2 percent).
Des Moines' growth, however, was on par with Nashville (2 percent) and ahead of Portland (1.7 percent) and Denver (1.6 percent).
Before 2016, metro Des Moines' growth had hovered between 1.8 and 1.9 percent for several years.
If the growth continues, Des Moines could face questions about infrastructure, traffic and affordable housing. Booming cities such as Austin, Nashville and Denver have been plagued by soaring home prices, clogged highways and longer commute times.
Todd Ashby, executive director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, said the metro shouldn't expect traffic headaches in the near future.
Central Iowa's legendarily short commute times could get a little longer and public transportation will become more important, but in general the region's roads are prepared for the expected growth.
"We have a pretty robust road network, and there is the capacity to handle it," he said.
Fastest growing Midwestern metros
- Des Moines: 2 percent
- Fargo, N.D.: 1.9 percent
- Sioux Falls, S.D.: 1.5 percent
- Madison, Wis.: 1.3 percent
- Lincoln, Neb.: 1.3 percent
- Lawrence, Kan: 1.3 percent
Metro areas in Iowa
Population change in 2016 and total population
- Des Moines: 2 percent, 634,725
- Iowa City: 1.2 percent, 168,828
- Omaha-Council Bluffs: 1.1 percent, 924,129
- Ames: 0.8 percent, 97,090
- Cedar Rapids: 0.07 percent, 267,799
- Sioux City: 0.3 percent, 169,140,
- Dubuque: 0 percent, 97,003
- Quad Cities: -0.3 percent, 382,286
- Waterloo-Cedar Falls: -0.4 percent; 170,015
Fastest growing U.S. metro areas
- The Villages, Florida: 4.3 percent
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: 3.9 percent
- Bend, Oregon: 3.6 percent
- Greeley, Colorado: 3.5 percent
- (tied): Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.; Provo, Utah; St. George, Utah; 3.1 percent
Source: U.S. Census Bureau