By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas' biggest metropolitan areas were the biggest magnet for newcomers in the United States in the year through last July, even as a fall in energy prices sent shockwaves through the oil-rich state, U.S. Census Bureau data released on Thursday said.
The Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth metro areas added 159,000 and 145,000 residents respectively. Rounding out the top five metro areas for population gains in the period were Atlanta, Phoenix and New York.
As of mid-2015, the Houston area was home to 6.6 million people, the Dallas-Fort Worth region had 7.1 million people, though they lagged metro New York, with 20.2 million residents.
The fastest growing area for a percentage gain was Villages, Florida, to the northwest of Orlando, which grew by 4.3 percent in the period, it said.
Other findings from the Census data included the county of Los Angeles in California being the most populous with 10.2 million people as of July 1, 2015. Cook County, Illinois, where Chicago is located, remained the second most populous but saw its first population decline since 2007.
Separately, demographic data from state agencies in Illinois and Texas indicates that within 10 years, Houston is projected to surpass Chicago as the third most populous U.S. city.
Houston is projected to have population of 2.54 million to 2.7 million by 2025 while Chicago will be at 2.5 million, according to official data from both states provided for their health departments. New York and Los Angeles are safe at one and two respectively.
Texas has been one of the leaders in job creation in the past several years. Even with the troubles in the energy sector, the metropolitan Houston economy, which has grown more diverse, has shown remarkable resilience, adding 20,000 jobs to just over 3 million last year, according to government data.
Collectively, Texas' four biggest metropolitan areas, which include Austin and San Antonio, added about 412,000 people, and Texas as a whole gained 490,000 residents, the Census Bureau said.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz)