Slow population growth may cool housing prices
By Tim Logan
Globe Staff

Population growth in the Boston area continued to cool down last year, giving at least a glimmer of hope to people being squeezed out of its pricey housing market.

Greater Boston added about 35,000 people last year, according to new estimates from the Census Bureau, or seven-tenths of 1 percent, giving the region a population of 4.77 million — the 10th biggest metro area in the country.

That’s the same annual pace as 2014 but a bit slower than the growth seen earlier this decade, when the population surged — at least by local standards — on a wave of young adults moving or staying here for jobs. That surge helped drive up housing costs that are already among the highest in the nation, as builders struggled to keep up with demand.

A slowdown now could help cool off housing prices, especially as apartment developers deliver a record number of units aimed at that same population of young adults.

And, indeed, high housing prices are likely a factor in slower population growth. While Boston added population last year through births and international immigration, it saw roughly 14,500 people move out of the region for other parts of the United States, up from about 10,000 the year before.

Business groups are increasingly concerned about the high cost of housing here, with local companies saying they lose good employees in their 30s and 40s to regions where those workers can buy more house for their money. Meanwhile, tenant advocates say they increasingly see low-income renters being pushed to the fringes of the region, or outside Greater Boston altogether to cities such as Worcester and New Bedford.

Still, by Northeastern standards, Boston continues to grow relatively fast. Metropolitan Hartford lost population last year, the Census estimates, while New York and Philadelphia grew at roughly half Boston’s pace. The fastest growth came in the South and Sun Belt, the Census said, with Austin, Texas, top among large metro areas with 3 percent growth last year, followed by Orlando and Houston.

Tim Logan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.