Lawrence’s population growth among tops in the state; city now among the 100 fastest growing metro areas this decade

photo by: Douglas County GIS

Homes in a west Lawrence neighborhood are pictured in this 2016 aerial photograph from the Douglas County property viewer map.

There are about 800 more people in Lawrence than there were a year ago, and despite what the K-State fans will claim, they’re not all NCAA investigators. The U.S. Census Bureau has released new population estimates, and Lawrence continues to rank as one of the fastest growing metro areas in Kansas.

Actually, if you wanted to, you could make a banner saying that Lawrence is the fastest growing metro area that is entirely contained within the borders of Kansas. (A banner-maker who charges by the letter would love to make that for you.) Or you could just say that only the Kansas City metro area — which includes parts of Missouri — grew faster than Lawrence. Even then, it wasn’t by much. Here’s a look:

• Kansas City: 2,143,651 people, up 0.8 percent

• Lawrence: 121,436 people, up about 0.7 percent

• Manhattan: 97,980 people, up less than 0.1 percent

• Wichita: 644,888 people, down less than 0.1 percent

• Topeka: 232,594 people, down 0.2 percent

So, if you are keeping track at home, the Lawrence metro area — which encompasses all of Douglas County — had 807 more people in 2018 than it did in 2017, according to the Census Bureau. The bureau estimates populations for July 1 of each year.

If you are keeping track in Topeka, you should continue to worry. The population loss in the Topeka metro area continues a multi-year trend for the capital city. The numbers in Manhattan also might begin to spark some concerns there. (No sparks in Manhattan, please, as all of the buildings are made of sod and filled with leftover Bill Snyder track suits, both of which are highly flammable.) The Manhattan metro, which includes nearby Junction City and Fort Riley, had a lot of momentum earlier in the decade but has started to slow.

One-year numbers, though, can be a little bit deceiving. For a better sense of a trend, look at the numbers since 2010. Lawrence’s population growth shines even brighter in that chart. Lawrence can lay claim to being the fastest growing metro in the state — at least by rate of growth — this decade. Here’s a look at the number of people who have been added to the population and the growth rate:

• Lawrence: up 10,610 people, 9.6 percent

• Kansas City: up 134,310 people, 6.7 percent

• Manhattan: up 5,240 people, 5.7 percent

• Wichita: up 13,965 people, 2.2 percent

• Topeka: down 1,273 people, 0.5 percent

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Usually I say that Lawrence’s growth numbers are mainly impressive by Kansas standards, which means that Kansas is struggling with population numbers as a whole. But Lawrence’s growth rate this decade actually isn’t bad from a national perspective. Out of the 390 metro areas, Lawrence’s 9.6 percent growth rate this decade ranked No. 93. That’s right, we are in the top 100.

Before the debate begins about whether Lawrence actually may be growing too fast, know that Lawrence’s growth rate seems to be on par with several other university communities in the region. For example, since 2010, Ames, Iowa, has grown 9.6 percent; Columbia, Mo., 10.7 percent; and Iowa City 13.6 percent. Probably the fastest growing university community in the region has been Fort Collins, Colo., which has grown 17 percent and is one of the 25 fastest growing metro areas in the country. (Though, there is so much beer in Fort Collins, I’m not sure their counting can be trusted.)

If you are some type of cosmopolitan traveler who is wondering about the population growth for exotic places such as Joplin, Mo., or Omaha, Neb., I’ve got those figures for you too. Here’s a look at the one-year growth totals for several cities in our region or in the Big 12 Conference:

• Fort Collins, Colo.: 350,518 people, up 1.9 percent

• Waco, Texas: 271,942 people, up 1.3 percent

• Omaha, Neb.: 942,198 people, up 1.1 percent

• Iowa City: 173,401 people, up 1.1 percent

• Oklahoma City: 1,396,445 people, up 1.0 percent

• Lincoln, Neb.: 334,590 people, up 1.0 percent

• Ames, Iowa: 98,105 people, up 0.9 percent

• Lubbock, Texas: 319,068 people, up 0.8 percent

• Columbia, Mo.: 180,005 people, up 0.8 percent

• Boulder, Colo.: 326,078 people, up 0.6 percent

• Morgantown, W.Va.: 140,259 people, up 0.4 percent

• Joplin, Mo.: 178,902 people, up 0.3 percent

• Tulsa, Okla.: 993,797 people, up 0.2 percent

• St. Joseph, Mo.: 126,490 people, down 0.1 percent

• St. Louis: 2,805,465 people, down less than 0.1 percent

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