How population growth drives economic development

As part of the SBDC’s approach to economic development, we're closely monitoring population growth trends because they impact our ability to compete for jobs and capital investment. With accelerated population growth, our region would have additional workers to fill critical gaps in our workforce. Without more people moving to our region, Springfield will struggle to address companies’ labor needs, limiting job growth for the next several decades.

Each spring, the U.S. Census Bureau releases data estimates for Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA or metro area) populations, ranking them by both total population and population growth rate. There are two key thresholds that, if met, would bring additional attention to the Springfield area: growing our population over 500,000 people, and breaking into the Top 100 Metro area ranking for population growth rate. 

Currently, Springfield’s MSA population is 466,978, which ranks 114th out of 383 metros for total population. Often, the site selection process eliminates metro areas under a certain population threshold, so being close to the half a million mark just doesn't cut it. Achieving that level, however, would qualify Springfield for more of the economic development projects our residents want to see such as additional retail opportunities and better air service options. 

In the last year, the Springfield metro added 4,678 people, a growth rate of 1.0%. Since the 2010 Census, the Springfield metro has gained 30,269 residents or 6.9% total (0.9% annually). While this is ahead of the national average growth rate of 0.8%, it only ranks Springfield 142nd in the nation for population growth. Fastest growing is The Villages, FL, with annual growth of 4.7% and slowest is Pine Bluff, AR, with a population loss of 1.3% annually. At the current rate of growth, it could take Springfield 8-10 years to break the 500,000 population barrier and we’d need to add nearly 100,000 people to break into the Top 100 U.S. Metros list.

Springfield ranks 2nd in Missouri behind Columbia for growth rate and 2nd behind Kansas City for actual number of people. It's interesting to note that while the St. Louis MSA is nearly six times larger, Springfield added a net of nearly twice as many people.

Springfield's competition for talent comes from everywhere, but our competition in mid-sized metros is stiff. We continue to hold an annual pace of growth behind Fayetteville, AR (2.3%), Boise, ID (2.3%), Nashville, TN (2.0%), Des Moines, IA (1.9%), and Colorado Springs, CO (1.8%). This difference in growth rate can equate to 4,000-5,000 people per year being added to our labor force to help employers create quality jobs in our community.

Contact Information

Phone: 417-862-5567

Springfield Business Development Corporation

202 S. John Q. Hammons Parkway
Springfield, Missouri 65806

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