It’s the data point at the heart of D.C.’s most passionate debates: How fast is the city growing? Advocates of changes to zoning and the 103-year-old Height Act to allow greater density argue that the city’s population is booming, and that we need ways to expand housing and office supply in order to meet growing demand. Critics charge that the city’s population growth is already slowing, and that the coming space crunch is exaggerated.
New population estimates out from the U.S. Census Bureau today would appear to give a boost to the former camp. According to the federal agency, the District gained more than 13,000 residents in the year leading up to July 1, 2013, bringing the city’s total population to 646,449.
That growth, a 2.1 percent gain, is largely consistent with the increases of the preceding years. Between 2010 and 2011, D.C.’s population grew by 2.4 percent. Between 2011 and 2012, the figure was 2.2 percent. The United States population grew by just 0.7 percent from 2012 to 2013.
The District remains more populated than two states, Wyoming (582,658) and Vermont (626,630), both of which gained substantially less population in the past year than the District. But the third-smallest state, North Dakota, grew faster than D.C., rising to 723,393, fueled by an energy boom.
A growing population is considered vital to the District’s economy, since the city can’t tax a majority of the workers in D.C., who live outside the District. But it also requires new investments in infrastructure and measures to allow for greater density, according to some city officials.
Photo from the D.C. Office of Planning. Due to a reporting error, this blog post originally said the District gained more than 1,300 residents between July 2012 and July 2013. It gained 13,000.