In 1998, Washington, D.C.’s population hit a historic low of 565,000 residents—down from the city’s high of around 800,000 residents in the 1950s.
Over the last 15 to 20 years, the city’s population has been reversing its downward trend and now has just hit a new milestone. In 2016, Washington, D.C.’s population hit its highest levels in nearly four decades.
In this post, we will explore how large Washington, D.C.’s population has grown, how much larger the city is likely to get, and what this means for real estate development.
Washington, D.C. is Closing in on 700,000 Residents
The census recently released its new 2016 estimates, and they confirm what we have all felt—Washington, D.C.’s population is growing rapidly.
Between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016, Washington, D.C.’s population grew by 10,793 new residents. The census estimates the city’s population now sits at 681,170 residents. This growth represents an approximate 1.6% growth from 2015 and an approximate 13.2% growth between the years 2010 to 2016.
Washington, D.C. Population
2010: 601,723
2016: 681,170
The majority of this growth came from new residents (6,392) and not natural increase (4,324). Surprisingly, the majority of these new residents moved to Washington, D.C. from other countries (4,116 from other countries vs 2,276 from other states in the U.S.). Expectedly, working adults made up the majority (60%) of these new residents.
But here is the most significant item within this recent census data—Our city’s population has reached its highest levels since the 1970’s.
This data suggests our recent population boom is not a short-term trend, but part of a longer-term return to our city’s most populated years. In fact, recent projects suggest we will not only reach our previous high of 800,000 residents—but far exceed it.
Could Our City Have One Million Residents Soon?
Recently, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) projected the region’s population “will increase from 5.4 million to 6.9 million” residents between now and 2045. Washington, D.C. itself will grow by over 315,000 residents in the coming decades and reach a population of approximately 987,000 by 2045.
Responding to our city’s population growth, Mayor Bowser’s spokesman Michael Czin explained: “Our challenge is planning for growth while preserving the character that makes the District unique.” While the local government is earmarking money to contend with this challenge, most of the responsibility for overcoming this challenge will lie with Washington, D.C.’s development community.
Our city is already having a challenging time keeping up with recent population growth. Demand for housing has already been increasing much faster than supply. In October of last year, new listings decreased 13.4% year over year. Active listings decreased 18% year over year. Home prices are going up, while days on market are sharply declining.
We are already feeling significant pressure to house the approximately 900 new residents entering Washington, D.C. every month. As COG Chairman Roger Berliner explained—regarding the city’s housing pressures and his projections for Washington D.C.’s future population— “It’s important to understand that this is only going to intensify going forward.”

Our Challenge, Our Opportunity
Right now, we are experiencing one of Washington, D.C.’s hottest housing markets. While this current market will at some point enter a soft period, the long term trend is very strong for developers. At least through 2045, the city’s long-term trends indicate substantial population growth and substantial opportunity for those members of the development community who meet this new population’s housing needs.
Contact Evergreen Private Finance today to discuss how you can best capitalize on this opportunity today. Call us at (202) 713-9072 or email us at [email protected].
Written by: Evergreen Private Finance