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Census: Philadelphia population grows again, but rate slows

Philadelphia's population grew in 2013, but at a slower rate than other recent years. (David Maialetti / staff photographer)
Philadelphia's population grew in 2013, but at a slower rate than other recent years. (David Maialetti / staff photographer)Read moreDavid Maialetti / staff photographer

Philadelphia's population rose again last year, albeit at a slower rate than the city's growth over the past few years, according to Census data released today.

The city's population as of July 1, 2013, stood at an estimated 1,553,165 people, an increase of 4,518 residents, or 0.29 percent from the previous year. It marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the city, according to the Census Bureau's population estimates. So the turnaround continues, but not as dramatically.

Philadelphia saw steep declines in the latter part of the 20th century as it continued to struggle with the loss of its industrial base. That trend continued into the new millennium. Indeed, the city's population declined every year between 2000 and 2006, losing nearly 26,000 residents during the span. But since 2006, the city has added more than 64,000 people.

The new census numbers, however, suggest that the population rise has slowed. Philadelphia added only about half as many residents in 2013 as it gained in 2011 and 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, the city's population grew by more than 1.3 percent.

The city's growth last year primarily stemmed from births and foreign immigrants. The city recorded 23,247 births and 14,728 deaths, for a net natural increase of 8,519 people.

The number of births have remained steady for the past three years, consistently boosting the city's population.

Migration data show that Philadelphia had a net increase of 7,544 people moving here from abroad. But among people who moved to other places in the United States, the city had a net decrease, losing 10,563 people who moved domestically. That number nearly doubled from the previous year - a potentially troublesome indicator for the city's population. Last year was also the first year since the 2010 Census in which Philadelphia had a net loss of residents due to migration, taking into account both domestic and international moves.

The Philadelphia metropolitan statistical area – which includes the South Jersey and Wilmington regions – remained the sixth-largest in the country, with 6,034,678 residents.

The Houston metro, which recently overtook Philadelphia as the fifth-largest, posted the largest numeric increase of any metro area nationwide. The area's nearly 138,000 new residents brought its population above 6.3 million.

Elsewhere in the region, Chester and Montgomery counties had the highest growth rates of the suburban counties that ring Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

-Chester County added 3,278 people, a 0.65-percent increase that brought the county's population to 509,648.

-Montgomery County grew by 0.42 percent, adding 3,430 residents for a total of 812,376.

-Bucks County's population stood at 626,976 people, a 599-resident increase.

-Delaware County recorded 509,468 residents, adding 1,274 people.

In the immediate tri-county New Jersey suburbs, the population was mostly stagnant, with two counties losing people.

-Burlington, once a booming county for growth, lost 788 residents, bringing its population to 450,838 people

-Camden County's population continued to sag, standing at 512,854 after losing 835 residents.

-Gloucester County saw modest growth.  It had 290,265 residents, a 457-person rise.

And Atlantic County, which is not part of Philadelphia's suburbs, had 275,862 residents, an increase of 500 people.

Nationally, the Census Bureau said most of the fastest-growing areas of the country last year were located in the Great Plains, where the energy industry has boosted populations. Jobs in the mining, oil and gas industries are attracting people to that region, the bureau said.

The metro areas with the highest growth rates included The Villages, Fla.; Odessa, Texas; Midland, Texas; Fargo, N.D/Minn.; and Bismarck, N.D.

The fastest-growing counties included Fort Bend, Texas; Loudoun, Va.; and Osceola, Fla.