The population continues to rise in Wisconsin's capital city.
Madison grew more than any other city in the state from 2015 to 2016, surpassing a quarter of a million residents, according to estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau. But the growth trend isn't just contained to Madison, as several of its suburbs also put up significant population gains.
Four Dane County communities — Madison, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and Verona — were among the top 10 largest population gainers for all Wisconsin cities and villages during the year, according to census estimates.
Madison led that metric by adding 3,938 residents from 2015 to 2016, followed by Fitchburg with 921 newcomers.
County Executive Joe Parisi credits the continued growth to the county's school districts, environmental protection, economy and other facts that contribute to a high quality of life.
"I just think it's a reflection of the overall region," he said. "We're fortunate that both the city and the suburbs are desirable places to live."
Released annually, the census data estimates the population nationwide as of July 1, 2016, a date used every year.
The figures are based on births and deaths, domestic migration — determined sometimes through tax returns — and international migration, said David Egan-Robertson, a demographer with UW-Madison's Applied Population Laboratory.
Since 2010, an 8.9 percent population increase has pushed the county to 531,273 people by 2016, according to the census data. A 2013 state projection, completed by Egan-Robertson, forecasts Dane County to reach 606,620 people by 2040.
"Generally, in the state when the Great Recession hit in late-2000s, a lot of areas really kind of stopped growing," Egan-Robertson said. "But Dane County continued to add people, and its growth has been very strong this decade."
Cross Plains, Verona and Fitchburg placed among the top 10 fastest-growing cities and villages on a percentage basis over the past year at 3.8 percent, 3.6 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.
The village of Lannon in Waukesha County led the state at a 5.3 percent increase, bolstered by the 58 people who moved there during the time.
Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, said the county's population trend is being driven by economic opportunity, its livability factors and accessibility to amenities.
Although, Brandon and Parisi both spoke to a need of building more housing to keep the market affordable, increasing transit opportunities and boosting economic prospects for all as the region continues its growth.
From 2015 to 2016, Madison and Dane County more than doubled the national growth rate for the year, while the whole state lagged behind the United States. Growth was fastest in states in the West and South, while states in the Midwest and Northeast have grown more slowly or stagnated.
Overall Wisconsin added 10,817 residents, growing 0.2 percent to 5,778,708. Dane County's growth of 8,395 residents accounted for more than 77 percent of the state's overall gain.
Brandon said Dane County's "advanced industries," such as Epic System Corp. and American Family Insurance, are the driving forces for economic growth and employment, drawing in younger residents to the area.
"These are people on the upward of their career," he said. "They're seeing Madison as a place to launch and accelerate that career."
Top Ten Gainers
Four Dane County communities are among the top 10 villages and cities that experienced the most growth from 2015 to 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
|Municipality||County||Population growth||2016 population||Percent growth|
|Eau Claire||Chippewa/Eau Claire||537||68,339||0.7|
Top Ten Losers
The top ten villages and cities in Wisconsin that lost the most people from 2015 to 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
|Municipality||County||Population loss||2016 population||Percent loss|
|La Crosse||La Crosse||150||52,109||0.3|