Will These be the Most Populated U.S. Cities in 2100? (Before and After)

Present day
Year 2100

The future of America may lie in Texas. Based on current migration trends, moveBuddha predicts that by 2100, Dallas, Houston, and Austin will replace NYC, LA, and Chicago as the country’s most populous cities.

Metro Area Year 2100 Rank 2100 Population Current Rank Current Population
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 1 33.91M 4 7.7M
Houston, TX 2 31.38M 5 7.2M
Austin, TX 3 22.29M 23 2.3M
Phoenix AZ 4 22.27M 10 5M
New York City, NY 5 20.81M 1 19M
Atlanta, GA 6 18.37M 9 6M
Los Angeles, CA 7 15.5M 2 13M
Washington-Arlington, DC-VA 8 14.97M 6 6.3M
Orlando, FL 9 14.17M 19 2.6M
Miami, FL 10 13.78M 7 6.2M

Big Takeaways:

  • The future belongs to Texas.  America’s three biggest cities by 2100 will be #1 Dallas, #2 Houston, and #3 Austin. Fast-growing San Antonio also ranks at #11.
  • The Sunbelt keeps rising. Phoenix is projected to be the 4th-biggest U.S. city by population in 2100. Other Sunbelt cities in the top 10 are #6 Atlanta, #9 Orlando, and #10 Miami.
  • NYC and L.A. are currently the top two biggest U.S. cities, but they’re projected to fall to #5 and #7, respectively, by the year 2100.

The Top 10 Most Populated U.S. Metro Areas in 2100

What will America look like in 77 years?

moveBuddha applied 2010-2020 Census growth rates to project the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas in 2100.

#10 Miami, FL – more than double the population by 2100

2100 Estimated Population: 13,779,843

Present day
Year 2100

The 2021 U.S. Census estimate placed Miami at #9 nationally among America’s most populous metropolitan areas. A compound annual growth rate of about 1% means the Magic City would more than double its population by 2100. But other U.S. cities are growing much faster, and Miami would fall to #10 nationally.

This growth in Miami’s population assumes the city is not crippled by chronic flooding and rising sea levels. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency report outlined such a scenario several years ago. But it’s not hopeless: proper planning and new technologies could save Miami from this doomsday future.

#9 Orlando, FL – projected to grow 445% by 2100

2100 Estimated Population: 14,172,727

Present day
Year 2100

Another Florida city expected to see significant population growth by 2100 is Orlando. The home of Disney World had an explosive growth rate of more than 23% between 2010 and 2020. If those trends continue, Orlando’s population would multiply nearly seven times by the end of this century.

Like most of Florida, sea level rise threatens Orlando. Hotter temperatures could also drastically change conditions. By 2021, Climate Central projects Orlando temperatures to warm by more than 6 degrees. That would make conditions similar to current-day Ciudad Rio Bravo, Mexico.

#8 Washington-Arlington, DC-VA – sliding from #6 but holding own

2100 Estimated Population: 14,972,830

Present day
Year 2100

Washington, D.C., is one of only two Northeastern cities to crack the top 10. D.C. is currently ranked #6 nationally by the 2021 U.S. Census estimate. Given a modest growth rate between 2010 and 2020, the nation’s capital would slide two spots among the most populous American cities by 2100.

But climate change threatens D.C., too. Without more efforts to mitigate global warming, summers in the nation’s capital could lengthen to six months. Sea level rise could also affect Washington, D.C., and submerge many sections of the city.

#7 Los Angeles, CA – dropping from the #2 spot

2100 Estimated Population: 15,502,798

Present day
Year 2100

Los Angeles will experience quite the fall from grace by 2100 if current trends hold. The LA area’s measly compound annual growth rate of 0.21% means the city may only add about 2.5 million residents by the end of the 21st century. LA would go from the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area to #7.

Climate change projections for Los Angeles aren’t rosy, either. One bleak study shows that California will experience 60 to 90 more sweltering days by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. In that scenario, a drought-stricken LA would have up to 54 days annually with temperatures of more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

#6 Atlanta, GA – tripling population in 77 years

2100 Estimated Population: 18,370,497

Present day
Year 2100

Atlanta is currently the 8th most populous metropolitan area in the U.S., according to 2021 Census estimates. If its relatively strong growth rate continues, the ATL can expect to climb two spots to #6 by 2100. Atlanta’s population would swell from over 6 million to over 18.3 million.

Of course, Atlanta will also be much hotter by 2100. One estimate by Climate Central says the city’s average summer temperature will jump from the current 87.64 degrees to 96.69 degrees Fahrenheit. That would make “Hotlanta” feel more like Pharr, Texas, a city on the Mexican border.

#5 New York City, NY – will no longer be the largest city in America

2100 Estimated Population: 20,810,467

Present day
Year 2100

Start spreading the news: the future may be grim for New York City. Like Los Angeles, the Big Apple’s sluggish growth rate between 2010 and 2020 means it may lose its hold as America’s biggest city by 2100. The NYC metropolitan area would fall to #5 nationally, given current trends. It would add a little less than 2 million new residents by the turn of the century.

Even these growth estimates could be off, given the sea level rise. Countless people have discussed and are working on plans to help NYC survive the impact of climate change. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 may have previewed the city’s future. About six feet of sea level rise by 2100 would bring chronic flooding and more intense storm surges to the city.

#4 Phoenix, AZ – quadrupling population by 2100

2100 Estimated Population: 22,271,212

Present day
Year 2100

Thanks to a little thing called air conditioning, the Phoenix area has seen sustained, explosive population growth since the 1960s. It shows no signs of slowing down, either. Phoenix grew by 20.35% between 2010 and 2020. If those trends continue, Phoenix will become the 4th-largest metropolitan area nationally by 2100. Its population would grow by more than four times.

All this growth depends on whether America’s hottest big city can survive climate change. By 2100, some researchers estimate the average summer temps in Phoenix could be an unbearable 114.08 degrees. That would make life in the city feel like present-day Kuwait in the Middle East.

#3 Austin, TX – growing over 10x, fastest-growing

2100 Estimated Population: 22,293,980

Present day
Year 2100

Austin had the second-fastest population growth rate among all large U.S. cities between 2010 and 2020. If that growth rate continues, the Austin area will jump in the national rankings from #28 in 2021 to #3 in 2100. moveBuddha data showed that move-in interest to Austin slowed in recent months. But that’s likely only a temporary lull in a decades-long story of growth.

Like the rest of Texas, Austin will be much hotter by 2100. Along with sweltering temperatures, water scarcity could be an issue. Austin and other Texas cities are already planning for this. Austin’s city government adopted a 100-year water plan in 2018 that calls for conserving, recycling, and re-engineering its water infrastructure system.

#2 Houston, TX – growing to the size of Tokyo

2100 Estimated Population: 31,384,122

Present day
Year 2100

As of 2021, Houston was the 5th-most populated metropolitan area in the United States. If current growth rates continue, the Texas city will jump to #2. Houston’s growth rate between 2010 and 2020 was slower than Austin, Phoenix, and even San Antonio’s. But its already sizeable population gave it a head start in the race for the biggest American city by 2100.

Yes, Houston will be very hot in 2100. But the bigger threat may be more destructive hurricanes from off the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2017, and major storms like that could become more common. A historic flood also nailed the city in 2019. Planning for a future of these climate-induced threats will be critical for Houston.

#1 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX – projected to be the largest city in 2100

2100 Estimated Population: 33,907,275

Present day
Year 2100

Dallas may not be the fastest-growing big city in America, but by 2100, we project it could be the nation’s largest. The Dallas metropolitan area is already ranked #4 by population nationally in 2021. If its current growth rate continues, it will climb to #1 by 2100 and boast nearly 34 million residents.

If climate trends continue, Dallas would experience more than 130 days of 95-degree temps by 2100. Water scarcity could also be an issue. But like Atlanta, landlocked Dallas could become a top destination for people fleeing the flooding coastlines from sea level rise.

Which U.S. Metro Areas Will Have the Biggest Populations by 2100?

This is a critical question for futurists, scientists, and government officials. The potential effects of climate change are the biggest question mark. According to one GDP projection through 2099, over three-quarters of U.S. counties will suffer economically because of climate damage. That could be from everything from heat-related deaths to sea-level rise to increased natural disasters.

At moveBuddha, we’re interested in the projections for America’s population and migration patterns by 2100. As it turns out, even academics and experts can’t agree on population projections. Some say that, for the first time in modern history, the world’s population is predicted to virtually stop growing by 2100. This is mainly due to falling global fertility rates.

The global population is projected to reach about 10.9 billion with an annual growth rate of less than 0.1% by 2100. That’s a stark decline from the current rate. For America, the population has nearly flatlined since the pandemic started, and many think that trend will continue in the decades ahead. 

We wanted to know at moveBuddha what U.S. metropolitan areas would see the biggest population growth by 2100. We did this by using the compound annual population growth rate of the biggest U.S. metro areas (250,000 residents or more) between the 2010 and 2020 U.S. Census estimates and extrapolating it over 80 years.

This was an inexact science, and growth rates are bound to change. But it gave us a rough idea of which American cities may rise to the top by the dawning of the 22nd century. Climate change effects, migration patterns from climate change, and other unforeseen events could change things.

Are these numbers impossible?

They may not be after all.

In the 2020 book One Billion Americans, the author and Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias argues for a more open immigration policy to counter geopolitical heavyweights like China.

“America should aspire to be the greatest nation on Earth” he says.

The United States could triple its population to one billion people and still have less than half the density of Germany.

Combined with general migration patterns favoring cities and suburbs combined into metro areas, there is a path to these top 10 cities being completely reasonable within this context of a larger, even more globally welcoming America.

Can the Sunbelt’s dominance continue?

If current population growth rates continue unabated, the future of America belongs to Texas and the Sunbelt.

moveBuddha projects that 8 of the top 10 most populated cities by the year 2100 will be in the Sunbelt. Texas would hold the top 3 cities, Florida would be home to 2 top cities, and Phoenix, Atlanta, and LA would be in the top 10.

The Northeast would suffer the most, with only two cities in the top 10. Several prominent American cities would also fall from grace. The Chicago area would fall from #3 in 2021 to #18, and Boston would fall from #11 to #21 by 2100. Philadelphia and San Francisco would also slide in the rankings.

Climate change is the biggest question mark. Many believe it will realign America’s map and force drastic new migration patterns. Some researchers say that north of the 45°N parallel, which runs through Michigan, will be the ideal location in a warming world. That would mean places like Duluth, Minnesota, would be the boomtowns of the future.

But if global warming is held in check, Texas may be America’s haven in 2100. New technologies may help us adapt to extreme weather and heat. Perhaps then, the continued migration to the Sunbelt could continue.

Then again, by 2100, maybe we’ll all live in the metaverse.

Sources and Methodology

This report uses data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau. We examined all U.S. metropolitan areas with more than 250,000 residents and calculated their annual compound population growth rates between 2010 and 2020. We also calculated the 10-year population growth rate.

We extrapolated the annual compound growth rates for all cities from 2020 to 2100 to estimate the total metropolitan area populations for 2100.

U.S. Census Bureau data

Unless otherwise indicated, city-specific data was sourced from:

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