Skip to main content

Houston Population Expected to Exceed 7.1 Million by 2020

Published May 07, 2019 by Patrick Jankowski

Buffalo Bayou Bridge

Metro Houston added nearly 92,000 residents last year, boosting the region’s population to nearly 7.0 million. Since 2010, the Houston area has added nearly 1.1 million residents. Houston’s population should exceed 7.1 million by the end of the decade. 

Houston ranked third in the nation in overall population growth, third in net natural increase, and fourth in international migration in 2018. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago lost population, again, but not enough to endanger their rankings as the nation’s three most populous metros. 

Last year’s growth, however, was the weakest in 20 years. It came on the heels of tepid growth the year before. The region saw fewer births last year, an uptick in deaths, and a significant number of residents leaving Houston. If not for a surge in international migration, Houston’s population growth would have been weaker still.

For the second consecutive year, more people left Houston than moved here from other parts of the U.S. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the loss at 19,500 residents over the two years. Earlier in the decade, domestic migration annually exceeded 60,000.

International migration set a record in 2018, topping the previous high reached in 2017. Over the past 20 years, domestic migration has been erratic but international migration has always been strongly positive for Houston.  

A large net natural increase in Houston’s population (i.e., resident births minus resident deaths) helped offset domestic out-migration last year. The number of births in Houston has risen steadily in recent years, peaking near 103,000 in 2017. Last year, however, the number of births dropped nearly four percent. 

Every county in the Houston metro area gained population last year, with Harris capturing the most residents. All the growth, however, came from the natural increase. Harris suffered negative domestic migration, which isn’t surprising since the county bore the brunt of Harvey’s impact. International migration though substantial, wasn’t to enough to offset the domestic outflow. Net migration was positive for the remaining eight counties, and all nine counties gained in total population, the growth concentrated in Brazoria, Fort Bend, Harris and Montgomery counties.

While the region’s job market isn’t the draw it once was, other factors (warmer weather, affordable housing, family ties, friendly business climate) are likely to continue to draw people to the region. 

And Houston should continue to attract residents from abroad. Immigrants prefer metros that already have large populations of their fellow countrymen. Houston has a large foreign-born population—nearly one in four Houstonians was born abroad. The region also has a reputation for welcoming newcomers, whether they’re from New York or New Zealand. And Houston has become a global city, with 90 consulates, two international airports, the second busiest seaport in the nation, and nearly 1,000 foreign-owned companies with operations in Houston. 

How many residents might Houston add in the coming decade? The Perryman Group forecasts the nine-county metro area to reach 8.4 million by 2030. The Texas Demographic Center expects the nine-county region’s population to reach 8.7 million by 2028.

Click here for more on population growth. 

Related News


Houston Metro Population Surpasses 7.1M, Region Adding 250 People a Day

Metro Houston saw the third-largest increase in population growth in the U.S. for the year that ended June 30, 2020, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau.  The Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA added more than 91,000 residents during the 12-month period. That’s the biggest numerical increase behind the Dallas-Fort Worth (119,748) and Phoenix (106,008) metro areas. The new figures put the metro area’s population over 7.1 million residents. Next year’s estimate should push the region over the 7.2 million mark.  Domestic migration, or new residents moving from elsewhere in the U.S., was positive in 2020 and marginally positive in 2019, following two years of losses in 2017 and 2018 thanks to a weak economy and Hurricane Harvey. Nearly 20,000 individuals already in the U.S. moved to the area last year, following about 6,000 the year prior. But over the last five years the larger increases were in international migration. More than 175,000 residents have moved here from abroad since 2016, including 24,587 last year alone.  The other factor contributing to population growth of course is the natural one. Births minus deaths in the most recent period totaled just over 46,700. That natural increase is the lowest its been in the last decade. The slightly lower birth rate and higher death rate for 2020 can presumably be tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Breaking it all down, about 122 people a day on average moved here last year and another 128 people were added to the population naturally. In other words, the Houston metro area added 250 people a day for the most recent period.  Learn more about the Houston region’s population and what it means to live in Houston.   
Read More

Related Events


Economy Series: October Economic Update

The Partnership's monthly Economy Series presents the most current data on the region and what that data tells us about the local economy. Join us for the Partnership’s final Economy Series webinar for 2021.…

Learn More
Learn More