Houston Could Edge Chicago Out As 3rd Largest U.S. City By 2025

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Sep 14, 2015 5:33PM

It's hard to believe anyone could choose landlocked Houston and its brash, Lone Star State-attitude over Chicago's glimmering lakefront beaches, public transportation system and Midwest Nice culture. But the numbers don't lie, and by 2025 demographers predict that Houston will have outpaced Chicago as the third largest city in the United States.

Houston's rapid job growth and burgeoning ethnic and cultural diversity are behind the massive demographic shift, according to Reuters. Houston currently has about 2.2 million residents, to Chicago's 2.7 million. But within the next eight to ten years, Houston's numbers are expected to continue growing, to about 2.54 million, while Chicago's dip below 2.5 million. New York will remain the largest city in the U.S. and Los Angeles will continue to technically hold the "second city" title Chicago is still known for.

While Chicago's population has been slowly and quietly stagnating over the past decade, Houston saw a 26 percent population jump from 2000 to 2010, and was named the Fastest-Growing City in America by Forbes.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker gloated about her city's good fortune in an interview with Reuters.

"Texas has a long tradition, and Houston has it in spades, that we are not so much interested in where you are from. We want to know what you can do," she said. It's unclear whether she was inadvertently or intentionally nodding at the Mayor Richard J. Daley-inspired Chicago stereotype that "We don't want nobody nobody sent," but the gauntlet has been thrown in any case.

The energy industry makes up about 40 percent of Houston's economy, and Houston's unemployment rate has consistently fallen both below the U.S. average and Chicago's in recent years. Houston also has low taxes and a strong aerospace industry.

Chicagoans are quick to bristle at suggestions that we're losing our edge—take Rachel Shteir's infamous takedown of the city in the form of a 2013 New York Times book review, for example. But hopefully these population predictions do not have to be set in stone.