These Will Be the 15 Biggest U.S. Cities in 2046

Sayonara, Chicago. The Windy City is currently the third-largest city in the United States by population, but by 2046 it will fall to fifth place, according to predictions from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Boston and Philadelphia (the eighth- and 10th-largest cities in 2016) will fall out of the top 10. Taking their places will be rapidly growing cities in Texas and the Southwest. Overall, population is expected to increase dramatically in dozens of U.S. cities in the next few decades.

By 2046, populations will have increased by 25% or more in 127 U.S. cities. Three dozen cities will grow by over 50%, and eight (including Raleigh, Austin, and Fort Myers) will see a 70% increase. Thirty years from now, five U.S. metros will be home to more than 10 million people, compared to two in 2016.

An abundance of jobs in these hot metros will drive growth. But unless these cities are prepared, such huge jumps in population also have the potential to add to congestion, strain infrastructure, and ultimately stifle future economic expansion, the conference warned.

In 2046, these will be the 15 biggest cities in America.

15. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota-Wisconsin

twin cities

This area’s high quality of life is a huge draw. | iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • 2046 metro area population: 4.264 million
  • Current population: 3.556 million
  • Percent change: 19.9%

The population of the Twin Cities will increase nearly 20% by 2046. Minneapolis and St. Paul have a high concentration of big companies (including 3M and Target), a high quality of life, and a favorable tax system, according to Minnesota Business, which are helping to drive growth.

14. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

Seattle cityscape

This area has of the best job growth rates in the country. |

  • 2046 metro area population: 4.928 million
  • Current population: 3.804 million
  • Percent change: 29.5%

The Seattle metro area will have nearly 5 million people by 2046. The city had one of the best job growth rates in the U.S. in 2016, at 3.4%, and it was also one of the fastest-growing big cities in the country in 2016, according to the U.S. Census.

13. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire

boston subway

Massachusetts has been seeing a large population increase. | Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

  • 2046 metro area population: 5.328 million
  • Current population: 4.799 million
  • Percent change: 11%

Boston’s population will grow by 11% between 2016 and 2046. That’s in keeping with recent trends. Massachusetts has led the Northeast in population growth in recent years, and many of the state’s new residents are settling in Boston.

12. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Limited housing makes growth a strain. | iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • 2046 metro area population: 5.602 million
  • Current population: 4.692 million
  • Percent change: 19.4%

Bay Area residents should prepare to feel a little more cramped. The already congested San Francisco metro area could add roughly another 1 million people in the next 30 years, the U.S. Conference of Mayors predicts. But the area’s housing stock isn’t increasing in line with its population, contributing to some of the highest home prices and rental costs in the country.

11. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware-Maryland

city street

The growth of the area has stalled. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 6.309 million
  • Current population: 6.071 million
  • Percent change: 3.9%

A little over 100 years ago, Philadelphia was the third-biggest city in the U.S. Today, it’s No. 8, and by 2046 it will have slipped to 11th place. The population will increase by a modest 4% or so, barely a blip compared to the double-digit growth that will happen in some cities.

10. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California

suburban housing

The housing market is booming. | David McNew/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 7.155 million
  • Current population: 4.518 million
  • Percent change: 58.4%

An additional 2.6 million people will be living in the Inland Empire in 2046, according to the U.S. Conference on Mayors. The region is turning into an “economic powerhouse,” according to local experts, and it’s recently been adding a lot of middle-wage, blue-collar jobs in areas, such as logistics and construction.

9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona

Phoenix with its downtown lit by sun

Over 7 million people are predicted to live there in 2046.|

  • 2046 metro area population: 7.847 million
  • Current population: 4.678 million
  • Percent change: 67.8%

Phoenix is on track to become one of the biggest metro areas in the U.S. By 2046, roughly 7.8 million people will call the region home, a little more than the current population of Dallas. The population of Maricopa County — home to Phoenix — grew by about 223 people every day from 2015 to 2016.

8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia

Washington, D.C., in spring

The area is already dealing with severe congestion problems. |

  • 2046 metro area population: 7.851 million
  • Current population: 6.147 million
  • Percent change: 27.7%

The D.C. area should grow by close to 28% in the next 30 years. But like San Francisco, housing isn’t keeping up with the population growth, with rents increasing 45% from 2005 to 2015. Congestion is also a huge problem. The city’s residents lose $1,834 every year sitting on packed highways, more than in any other U.S. metro, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.

7. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida

People and cars move down the street near bycicle parking

Rising sea levels could threaten this coastal city. |

  • 2046 metro area population: 8.101 million
  • Current population: 6.09 million
  • Percent change: 33%

More than 8 million people will call Miami home in 2046, and increase of 33% from 2016. But some are worried that rising sea levels could threaten the city’s future. As many as 2.5 million Miamians could become climate change refugees by 2100, a 2017 report in Nature warned.

6. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia


Atlanta will move up three spots. | Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 8.629 million
  • Current population: 5.804 million
  • Percent change: 48.7%

Atlanta’s population could increase by nearly 49% by 2046, going from 5.8 million today to 8.6 million. That would make it the country’s sixth largest metro area, up from the ninth largest today. Planning groups say the region will have to spend as much as $85 billion on infrastructure to keep up with all that growth, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

5. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin


Chicago will slip down the list. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 9.517 million
  • Current population: 10.28 million
  • Percent change: 8%

One hundred years ago, Chicago was the second-largest city in the country. By 2046, it will have slipped to fifth place. An 8% population increase won’t be enough to keep up with the runaway growth in Sunbelt cities. Still, the region will be one of a handful in the U.S. with more than 10 million people in a few decades.

4. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas


It will see a nearly 4 million person increase. | iStock

  • 2046 metro area population: 10.628 million
  • Current population: 6.803 million
  • Percent change: 56.2%

Houston will still be America’s fourth-largest city in 2046, but its population will have increased dramatically, going from 6.8 million today to 10.6 million 30 years from now. That will make it one of five U.S. metros to break the 10 million population barrier.

3. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas


The suburbs of Dallas are among the fastest-growing cities in the country. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 11.383 million
  • Current population: 7.246 million
  • Percent change: 57.1%

Dallas will grow even more than its Texan neighbor Houston in the next few decades. Recently, much of the area’s growth has been happening in suburbs, such as Frisco and McKinney, both among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. in 2016, with population increases of around 6%.

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

Los Angeles skyline

Commutes will only continue to get worse. | David McNew/Getty Images

  • 2046 metro area population: 14.863 million
  • Current population: 13.347 million
  • Percent change: 11.4%

Los Angeles is big and getting bigger. By 2046, nearly 15 million people will live in this Southern California metro area, an 11% increase from 2017. New residents could face high housing costs (L.A. is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country) and nasty commutes. Angelenos lose $1,711 every year to congestion, more than any other city except for D.C. and New York.

1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania

Taxis on 7th Avenue at Times Square

New York City will continue to have the highest population by a long shot. |

  • 2046 metro area population: 20.705 million
  • Current population: 20.181 million
  • Percent change: 2.6%

New York has been the largest city in the U.S. since the country’s founding, and it’s not going to give up the top spot any time soon. Even though its population is only predicted to grow by 2.6%, by 2046 nearly 21 million people will live in the New York metro area, nearly 6 million more than its closest rival, L.A.