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Kansas City Metro Steadily Growing, But It Drops To 31st Overall In The U.S.

Luke X. Martin
KCUR 89.3 file photo
The Kansas City metro area is growing, but was surpassed by the Austin, Texas, metro area.

Kansas City is now the 31st largest metro area in the United States, dropping from 30th in 2017. New estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate the Austin, Texas, metro area surpassed Kansas City in 2018.

While Kansas City’s growth has been steady, it’s being eclipsed by cities in the south and west, Mid-America Regional Council economist Jeff Pinkerton said. Dallas demonstrates this trend, he said: The metro grew by about 131,000 people, compared with about 16,000 in the Kansas City metro.

People moving into Kansas City makes up about half of the growth, with the rest from natural growth (more births than deaths).

High domestic migration, that is people coming from other parts of the U.S., is a healthy indicator, according to Pinkerton.

“If our region is able to attract more people who can choose where they want to live… we see that as a good sign for our region and for our economy,” he said.

He explained that Kansas City attracts people from smaller Midwest metro areas like Omaha and Des Moines but loses people to larger metros in the south like Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

Credit U.S. Census Bureau
Kansas City is now the 31st-largest U.S. metro area, down from 30th.

Johnson County saw the most growth in the area, about 38 percent. Kansas City’s Northland was not far behind, with Clay and Platte counties accounting for about 34 percent.

Pinkerton added that Kansas City’s growth numbers are representative of questions surrounding its geographic identity.

“People have written articles, like, 'How do you define Kansas City? Is it a Midwestern city? Is it western, is it eastern?’ We kind of find ourselves in the middle of that and I think the numbers kind of spell that out.”

Sonia Schlesinger is an intern at KCUR 89.3. Reach her at sonia@kcur.org or follow her on Twitter @soniaschlesi.

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