National Trend Toward Suburban and Rural Growth: Where Does Madison Fit In?

Following the Great Recession, the larger, more urban metro regions grew faster while suburban and rural areas declined or grew more slowly. A recent study of newly released census data by the Brookings Institution showed that growth patterns are returning to pre-recession trends: more growth in suburbs, exurbs and rural areas. There was, however, one exception: more growth in “middle of the country” metros.

How does the Greater Madison area fit in the national picture of recent growth?

The Madison metropolitan area (Columbia, Dane, Green and Iowa counties) were one of the “middle of the country” metro regions gaining population.

According to the new data, the greater Madison region grew by 47,652 people between 2010 and 2017, to a total of 654,230. That equates to an annual average growth rate of 1.1%. Most of the growth occurred in Dane County, which grew by 47,209 people, at an average annual growth rate of 1.4%.

However, Madison is growing much slower than the top ten fastest growing US metro areas, which grew at annual rates of 2.5% to 4.0%. This includes the Austin region, which added 55,269 people in one year (2016 to 2017), an increase of 2.7%. During that same year, the Madison region added 6,798 people, ranking number 60 for annual growth among the top 100 most populous regions in the country.

Where did that growth in the Madison region occur? Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) population estimates* for Dane County show 48% of the growth from 2010 to 2017 occurred in the city of Madison. The small cities – Sun Prairie, Verona, Stoughton, Middleton, Monona and Fitchburg – accounted for 22% of the growth. The 19 villages captured 16% and the unincorporated towns 14%.

How and where will the Greater Madison region grow in the future? A Greater Madison Vision explores this question in different alternative futures. Stay tuned to learn more about the different futures and the chance to tell decision makers what type of future you want for the region.

* DOA population estimate differ somewhat from U.S. Census estimates. DOA estimates a Dane County increase of 35,376 from 2010 to 2017; an annual average increase of 1.0%.