The Oklahoma City metropolitan area was one of the fastest-growing metro areas between 2010 and 2011, according to just-released census data.
Between April 1, 2010, and July 1, the Oklahoma City area's population jumped 2 percent, placing it at 34th nationally in terms of percent population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
Estimates place the Oklahoma City metropolitan area's July 1 population at 1,278,053, making it the 43rd-largest metro area in the United States.
That ranking was driven in large part by 3.4 percent population growth in Canadian County, which was the fastest-growing county in Oklahoma and the 37th-fastest-growing county nationally.
The Oklahoma City area was one of nine metropolitan areas that was not in the top 100 in terms of population growth between 2000 and 2010, but cracked the top 50 from 2010-11. That list also includes areas around Bismarck, N.D., Hattiesburg, Miss., and Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.
Eric Long, a research economist with the Great
“We expect that trend to continue,” Long said.
Long said he thinks the trend is the result of a number of factors. Oklahoma City has received a great deal of publicity throughout the recession about job growth and quality of life.
That kind of attention can be attractive for job-seekers, he said.
Population growth has been felt strongly in Canadian County, where officials have strained to keep up with growing demand for services.
Mary Leaver, a spokeswoman for the Mustang School District, said the district saw an enrollment spike of 300 students between 2010 and 2011 — roughly equivalent to a small elementary school, she said.
“We're a hot spot,” Leaver said.
That growth has led to overcrowding issues in the district, Leaver said.
Mustang voters approved two bond issues Tuesday totaling nearly $100 million that will go toward the construction of a new elementary school and a new center for fifth- and sixth-graders.
Once they're complete, those two schools will help ease overcrowding issues, Leaver said.
District officials are pleased with the outcome of the bond election, Leaver said, but the district still faces struggles in trying to accommodate more and more students until the new buildings open.
“Next year will be a challenge,” she said.
Likewise, city officials in Canadian County are looking at ways to keep up with infrastructure needs the growth rate brings about, Yukon City Manager Grayson Bottom said.
Population growth means new areas of development, which leads to the need for new roads, water lines and sewer service.
Meanwhile, Bottom said, the city must find a way to fund those new needs even before it sees any revenue from new residents.
“It just takes some innovative finance to get it all done,” he said.
Despite those challenges, Bottom said, city officials are excited about population growth, and they don't expect it to slow down in the near future. Progress is a good thing for any city, he said, and population growth eventually spells increased revenue, as well.
A large influx of new residents also brings fresh perspectives to the city, he said.
“It causes new eyes to look at things, which is always a good thing,” he said.