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Merced's population reaches 76,879

Merced is growing faster than many neighboring cities, according to the US Census Bureau.

U.S. census population estimates released Thursday show that Merced’s population grew by 2.3 percent to 76,879 residents between July 1, 2006 and July 1, 2007. That outpaced the county’s overall growth of 1.4 percent for a total of 245,514 people.

The numbers are the result of guesswork factoring in building permits. The estimate doesn’t consider Merced’s economic situation or high foreclosure rates. An official head count will be taken in 2010.

Fresno grew by 1.4 percent to 470,508 people while Modesto’s population reached 203,955 -- an increase of 0.1 percent. Turlock grew by 0.5 percent to a population of 68,133. Madera, meanwhile, grew by 3.5 percent for a total 55,880 residents.

New Orleans was the fastest-growing large city in the nation last year, but its population is still about half what it was before Hurricane Katrina.

The Census report also found:

- Texas cities showed rapid growth: Houston added the most people, with 38,932 new residents; San Antonio, Fort Worth and Austin were among the top 10 in numerical increases; and McKinney, Denton and Killeen were among the top 10 in percentage increases.

- The consolidated metropolitan area of Nashville-Davidson County, Tenn., became the 25th largest city with 590,807 residents. Washington, D.C., fell out of the top 25.

- Cleveland had the largest numerical decline in population over the latest year, losing 5,067 residents, followed by Columbus, Ga.; Baton Rouge, La.; Philadelphia and Baltimore. Cleveland also had the second greatest rate of loss over seven years, losing 8.3 percent of its population to stand at 438,042.

- In 2007, New York remained the largest city with 8.3 million residents, followed by Los Angeles with 3.8 million and Chicago with 2.8 million.

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