Courtesy Photo, City of Kent

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent

City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

Three of the largest cities in South King County appear to be following a nationwide trend of population declines among cities with more than 50,000 people.

Although the declines were slight from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023, Auburn had the highest drop among the largest 15 cities in the state with a decline of 1.2% (985 people), going from 84,855 to 83,870, according to estimated numbers released May 16 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kent dropped 0.8% (1,051 people), from 134,429 in 2022 to 133,378 in 2023. Federal Way declined 0.2% (180 people) from 97,881 to 97,701.

Renton slightly increased population by 0.4% (424 people), climbing from 104,067 to 104,491.

Many large cities with populations of 50,000 or more saw notable population declines over the course of the pandemic, according to the Census Bureau. Although their losses have slowed to pre-pandemic levels, their populations continued to decrease in 2023.

In 2020, Auburn, Kent, Federal Way and Renton each had much higher populations than in 2023, according to the Census Bureau.

Auburn had a population of 87,043 in 2020; Kent was at 136,592; Federal Way 100,988; and Renton at 106,719.

The estimates also show that, on average, many small and midsize U.S. cities with populations under 50,000 saw relatively higher growth rates in 2023 than in 2019 before the pandemic hit while large cities generally grew at slower rates, according to the population estimates.

As of July 1, 2019, cities with populations of 50,000 or more were the fastest growing on average. Fast-forward to 2023, they grew slower on average than all other population categories other than small cities with fewer than 5,000 people, according to the Census Bureau.

Large cities gained an average of 741 people in 2019, the year before the pandemic, but only 498 from 2022 to 2023 - nearly 40% less.

In a possible sign of the COVID-19 pandemic’s lasting impact, the country’s fastest-growing places are increasingly likely to be far-flung exurban communities on the outer margins of metro areas, according to July 1, 2023, population estimates released May 16.

“With many more people in working ages now able to work from home at least some of the time, it’s likely that some people are more willing to live further away from their place of employment than they would have in the past,” said Luke Rogers, demographer in the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division.

Fewer of the fastest-growing places between 2022 and 2023 were inner suburbs than in 2019 before the pandemic, and more were on the far outskirts of metro areas — 30, 40 and even more than 60 miles away from the largest city’s downtown, according to the Census Bureau.

“While the Census Bureau doesn’t define exurbs, we tend to think of them as far outer suburbs of metro areas, and they often have a mix of urban and rural character,” Rogers said. “Exurbs have sometimes been among the most rapidly growing communities, but this appears to be even more true now than before the pandemic.”

Multiple factors are likely behind the increased growth of exurbs.

Among them: Rising housing costs after the start of the pandemic, which drove some people farther away from cities toward exurbs in search of cheaper homes, according to the Census Bureau. Greater opportunities to work from home also likely contributed. Before the pandemic, telework and remote work options were much less common.

According to the Census Bureau, patterns of population growth and distribution regularly evolve, and it is too soon to tell whether the recent surge of exurban growth is a temporary blip or a more enduring phenomenon.

Other notable numbers

The Census Bureau released 2023 population estimates for the 15 largest cities in Washington as part of nationwide numbers. Kent remains the sixth largest city.

Seattle is the largest city in the state followed by (2) Spokane 229,447; (3) Tacoma 222,906; (4) Vancouver 196,442; (5) Bellevue 151,574; (6) Kent 133,378; and (7) Everett 111,180.

Vancouver had the largest increase in 2023 of 1% (1,942 people), going from 194,500 to 196,442. Seattle increased 0.8% (5,944 people) from 749,134 to 755,078. In 2020, Vancouver had a population of 191,278. Seattle was at 740,565 but dropped to 731,757 in 2021 before the numbers climbed.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Valley SWAT takes Kent woman, 23, into custody after shooting

Woman barricaded herself in home after reportedly shooting, injuring another woman

Kent School District labor groups want resignations of leaders

Call for Superintendent Israel Vela and Board President Meghin Margel to quit

Kent School District announces employees of the year for 2023-2024

Top teacher, principal, bus driver, coach, paraeducator, custodian and more

Medical examiner identifies second victim in fiery Kent car crash

Troy Thorp, 61, died in May 11 single-vehicle crash along South 272nd Street on West Hill

Kent man, 52, receives reduced sentence in Seattle fatal shooting

Pleads guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter after video of 2020 shooting indicates self-defense

Kent Police use drone, K-9 unit to capture assault suspect

Man had fled after fight with security guard at apartment complex along SE Kent-Kangley Road

Jail bars. File photo
Renton man convicted in 2018 Des Moines homicide

Jurors found 28-year-old Yourhighness Jeramiah Bolar of Renton guilty of two felony charges.

One of two victims identified in fiery Kent crash

Kristen Anne Meyers, 53, died in May 11 crash on West Hill, according to medical examiner

City-owned ShoWare Center in Kent loses $742,675 in 2023

Losses lower than projected but expenses continue to exceed revenue at 6,200-seat arena

Kent firefighters extinguish two fires on the same morning | Photos

Friday, May 17 at apartment leasing office in the Valley and at a vacant East Hill house

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

Kent Police Blotter: April 25 to May 8

Incidents include burglaries, robberies, shootings