City populations are growing, but not Milwaukee’s

Population down 2,808 since 2010 Census

Milwaukee's skyline.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:07 am

The city of Milwaukee’s population decreased by 1,880 last year, marking the fourth straight year the city has seen a decline in the number of residents, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Milwaukee’s population has now decreased by 2,808 since the 2010 Census, a 0.5% decline.

The lack of population growth in Milwaukee runs counter to national trends. The 100 largest cities in the country have averaged growth of around 9% since 2010 and the 40 cities closest in size to Milwaukee have averaged nearly 10% growth.

If Milwaukee would have grown at the average pace of those groups, the city would have added 54,000 to nearly 59,000 residents since 2010.

Those groups, of course, include many of the fast growing cities in the south and west. But Milwaukee still lags behind the average pace of growth for the top 25 cities in the Midwest. That group has averaged 5% growth, a pace that would have added nearly 30,000 residents to Milwaukee.

Consider the six cities nationally that were closest to Milwaukee in population in the 2010 Census: Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Las Vegas and Oklahoma City. Every one of those cities experienced double-digit percentage growth and added at least 60,000 residents. Two of those cities – Seattle and Denver – have added more than 115,000 residents.

The new Census Bureau data estimates the population as of July 1 last year and is limited specifically to cities. Data for metro areas was released earlier this year.

Metro Milwaukee, which includes Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties, has seen slightly stronger population growth since 2010, increasing by 20,159 residents or 1.3%. Of U.S. metor areas, the Milwaukee area ranks 269th in percentage growth and 143rd in the total number of residents added.

By comparison, the six metro areas closest to Milwaukee in 2010 – a list that includes Austin, Virginia Beach, Nashville, Providence, Jacksonville and Memphis – has averaged 10.4% growth since 2010.

Within southeastern Wisconsin, the municipalities with the most new residents since 2010 include:

  1. Bristol (+2,502 new residents)
  2. Menomonee Falls (+2,045)
  3. Oak Creek (+2,019)
  4. Wauwatosa (+1,980)
  5. Waukesha (+1,831)
  6. City of Pewaukee (+1,416)
  7. Pleasant Prairie (+1,204)
  8. Hartford (+1,106)
  9. Oconomowoc (+1,088)
  10. Muskego (+968)

The communities with the largest decreases include:

  1. Milwaukee (-2,808)
  2. Racine (-1,428)
  3. Sheboygan (-1,108)
  4. West Allis (-919)
  5. South Milwaukee (-355)
  6. Sturtevant (-331)
  7. Whitefish Bay (-244)
  8. Brown Deer (-100)
  9. Hales Corners (-94)
  10. Thiensville (-88)

The municipalities with the largest gains since 2010 across Wisconsin are primarily concentrated in Dane County. Madison has added 24,845 residents while Fitchburg and Sun Prairie have added 4,910 and 4,610 respectively. Verona and Middleton are also among the top 10 for number of residents added at 2,547 and 2,342.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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