Northwest Arkansas is rising yet again, this time in population to become the nation’s 100th largest metropolitan area.
The metropolitan statistical area, which consists of Benton, Madison and Washington counties in Arkansas, saw its population increase to 576,403 people by July 1, 2022, the latest estimate made public by the U.S. Census Bureau shows.
The Census estimate also makes clear just how fast Northwest Arkansas is seeing its population go up, increasing by 36 people a day between April 2020 when the official U.S. Census was taken and July 2022.
Community leaders for years have talked about how Northwest Arkansas adds 30 people a day to its population, but it may be time to update the message.
The Census Bureau’s confirmation that the region’s growth is accelerating from 30 to what’s now 36 people adds to the urgency of Northwest Arkansas expanding core infrastructure. More people means more drivers who will need better, wider highways and streets to move across the region without massive traffic delays.
The growth heightens the need for more affordable and workforce housing, more drinking water, expanded health care services, and more flights at Northwest Arkansas National Airport. It’s critical that the region address all those needs, and many others, to ensure that Northwest Arkansas remains vibrant and one of the nation’s best places to live and work.
The new information about growth comes as Northwest Arkansas keeps drawing national praise for its economic performance and quality of life.
U.S. News & World Report recently placed Northwest Arkansas at No. 10 on its annual list of Best Places to Live in the U.S. for 2023-2024. The region repeatedly makes the list and has remained in the top 10 since the magazine first published the rankings in 2016.
That U.S. News designation came shortly before the Milken Institute put the Northwest Arkansas metropolitan area in the No. 9 spot on its annual Best-Performing Cities list. The only large metropolitan areas in middle America to rank higher were Austin, Dallas and Nashville.
The new Census estimates show Northwest Arkansas moved up two spots between July 2021 and July 22 to reach No. 100 in population, passing Scranton, Pa., and Chattanooga, Tenn.
If the region keeps adding 36 people a day, it will reach 600,000 residents in January 2025.
The Northwest Arkansas Metropolitan Transportation Plan, published in 2019, predicts the region will reach 973,000 people by 2045.