DC’s population topped 700,000 in 2018, but last year also saw the slowest annual increase in a decade

Natural increase, not net in-migration, has become the main source of DC’s population growth.

The US Bureau of the Census estimates DC’s population on July 1, 2018 was 702,455, an increase of 6,764 (1.0%) from the revised estimate for 2017. This is notable for several reasons:

  • 2018 is the 13th straight year of population growth. From 2005 to 2018 population grew by 135,319, a gain of 23.9%.
  • 2018 is also the slowest population growth in a decade. From 2008 to 2018 DC’s population grew an annual average of 12,222. Growth in 2018 was just 55.3% of the
  • decade’s average.
    graph 2


graph 1


  • 60.7% of the net increase in population from 2017 to 2018 was accounted for by natural increase of 4,104. (Natural increase is births minus deaths.) The rest of the net change was from international migration. For migration within the US, 936 more people left DC than moved here.


graph 3


  • DC’s population was larger than that of 2 states (Vermont and Wyoming), and last year’s growth was more than in 16 states (9 of which actually lost population).
  • In percentage terms, DC’s rate of growth was well above the US (0.6%) rate and above that for 36 states.

Additional details on recent growth, revisions to past years, population change since 2000, and comparison with the 50 states are included below.


Revision to the 2017 estimate. The July 1, 2018 DC population estimate of 702,455 is actually 8,463 higher than last year’s 2017 estimate. However, the increase over 2017 is now estimated to be 6,764 because revisions to population estimates in earlier years have resulted in a new estimate for 2017 that was 1,719 higher.   The current estimate for 2017, 695,691, is 1,719 less than the prior one (693,972).

As shown in the accompanying table and graph, the revision to prior years involved all the years from 2010 to 2017. The higher estimate for 2017 reflects the cumulative impact of increases and decreases since 2010. Although the level in 2017 was higher, growth in 2017 over 2016 was actually lower (by 520 persons).

table 1.PNG

graph 4

Components of population change last year compared to the 8 1/4 years since the April 1, 2010 Census. The 6,764 increase in DC’s population from 2017 to 2018 was just a little over half (55.4%) of the 12,205 annual average since the April 2010 decennial census count. Several features stand out:

  • Natural increase has become the major contributor to DC’s net population growth. This past year natural increase accounted for 60.6% of the increase; its average contribution since 2010 was 37.4%. Although births and deaths last year both exceeded their annual averages since the census, natural increase was less than the post-census average because deaths increased more than births.
  • Domestic migration is no longer a source of net growth for DC. Net domestic migration contributed 29.3% to growth since the census, but now more people are leaving DC for other parts of the US than are arriving from them.
  • International migration has become a more important source of growth for DC. It was the source of 32.0% of the net increase in DC’s population in the years since the census, and 53.1% of the growth last year.

table 2.PNG


Comparison with the 50 states. In 2018 DC’s population was greater than that of Wyoming and Vermont. (The next closest states to DC are Alaska (737,438) and North Dakota (760,077)), Also, from 2017 to 2018:

  • DC’s population increase exceeded that in 16 states (9 of which lost population).
  • DC’s natural increase was greater than in 11 states (2 of which were negative).
  • DC’s net domestic migration was less negative than in 26 states.
  • DC’s net international migration was greater than in 18 states.


table 3

Details on comparisons with the states for 2018 and for changes from 2017 to 2018 are shown in the appendix.

About the data: This is the first of two blogs dealing with aspects of population growth in the District of Columbia.

The information reported here is from the tables released in December 2018 by the US Bureau of the Census in connection with population estimates for the 50 states and the District of Columbia as of July 1, 2018. Those tables include (1) total population; (2) population as of April 1, 2010 in the decennial census and as of July 1 of each year from 2010 through 2018; (3) components of population change from July 1, 2017, to July 1,2018; and (4) components of population change from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2018. The components of change are natural increase (with births and deaths shown separately) and net migration (with international and domestic migration shown separately. The data include revisions to the years 2010 through 2017.

A version of this blog appeared in the December 2018 District of Columbia Economic and Revenue Trends, issued by the D.C. Office of Revenue Analysis.


graph 5.PNG



2 thoughts on “DC’s population topped 700,000 in 2018, but last year also saw the slowest annual increase in a decade

  1. Hello Stephen.
    Thank you for this really interesting blog post. I am trying to reproduce the analysis just to learn how to access US census data. Would you please tell me which USCensus tables you use to get the data you use in this post.
    Thank you


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