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Census: Texas Booms Despite Recession

The national recession can't stop Texas cities from growing. Four of the 10 fastest gainers - including No. 1 Frisco - are in the Lone Star State, according to Census population estimates out Tuesday.

From 2008 to 2009, 11 of the 25 fastest-growing cities that have populations above 100,000 people were in Texas.

The state has escaped much of the downturn because of a diversified economy that includes oil and high-tech.

Among the big Texas gainers: Dallas suburbs such as McKinney, Carrollton and Lewisville; oil centers Odessa and Midland; and high-tech hub and state capital Austin. Frisco and Odessa passed the 100,000 mark.

Texas is "the star of the Sun Belt," says demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution. "It's big cities, it's oil, it's the suburbs. It's a diversified economy. People are moving there for high-skilled and low-skilled kinds of jobs."

The July 1, 2009, estimates capture the effects of the peak of the recession. Florida cities that were high-fliers most of the last 10 years are among the losers in the past year.

Cape Coral, for example, grew by almost 50 percent since 2000, which put it among the 10 fastest-growing this decade. But from 2008 to 2009, Cape Coral was the sixth-fastest decliner, losing about 600 people to 154,202.

The recession has benefited large central cities, including New York and Chicago, because people are staying put rather than moving. Arlington and Alexandria, Va. - close-in suburbs of Washington, D.C. - are big gainers, benefiting from jobs created by record federal spending and because fewer are moving to exurban communities.

"These new data reflect both the revival of population growth in many older urban cores in the North and East and slower growth in cities that experienced rapid gains during the boom of the middle part of the decade," says Kenneth Johnson, demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute.

Other highlights:

- Old industrial cities in the Northeast and Midwest continue to dominate the list of decliners this decade and in the past year: Flint, Mich., Cleveland, Buffalo. Detroit, the nation's 11th most populous city, had one of the biggest drops in the past year, losing about 1,700 to 910,920.

- The housing meltdown and recession has created a dramatic turnaround for once booming Sun Belt cities. Phoenix gained only 24,000 people between 2008-2009 compared with almost 41,000 at the peak of the boom from 2005 to 2006. Las Vegas gained 4,800, compared with 8,000 in the middle of the 2000s.

- Denver enjoyed its highest annual growth rate of the last 10 years: 2.9 percent, to 610,345.

"Denver didn't have all its eggs in the high-construction basket," Frey says. "It has a diverse economy and an image as a cool city."

The estimates are the last before official data from the 2010 Census, now underway, is released later this year and in 2011.

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