Top 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas The United States

Largest Metropolitan Areas In The United States

We bring to you the latest list of the top 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined 392 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for the United States, including eight for Puerto Rico.

The OMB defines a Metropolitan Statistical Area as one or more adjacent counties, or county-equivalents, that have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by the commuting tie.

As big a country the U.S is, many want to know the largest metropolitan areas in the United state.

All the 50 states of the USA have a population that is spread throughout its largest metropolitan areas, including New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as its suburban areas found in less populated states.

After the economic collapse and high unemployment numbers, the population of US cities of all sizes is expected to noticeably bounce back as the economy has become more stabilized. 

Foreign immigration is also expected to contribute to future growth of cities of all sizes, including the largest cities in the country.

Some of the most populous cities in the United States which is home to a population of over 300 million people have held on to those top spots decade after decade.

In fact, New York City with over 8.5 million residents has been the largest U.S. city since the country’s first census in 1790.

The other long-time holders of top-three titles are Los Angeles and Chicago each with more than 2.5 million residents.

So, what are the largest metropolitan areas in the United States

The 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas In The United States

This article will use the known population figure for metropolitans in the United States of America which is for the year 2010 and list it in descending order of magnitude.

Look out for a table making a comparison of the 2010 population census figure with an estimated figure of the 2019 population.

Take note that the table listed 11 Metropolitans instead of 10. That is so because as of the 2019 estimated population, there have been some changes affecting the ranks.

RankUSA Metropolitan Statistical Area2010 Census2019 estimate
11Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ MSA4,192,8874,948,203
10Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA4,552,4024,873,019
9Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA5,286,7286,020,364
8Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA5,564,6356,166,488
7Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA5,649,5406,280,487
6Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA5,920,4167,066,141
5Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA5,965,3436,102,434
4Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA6,366,5427,573,136
3Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA9,461,1059,458,539
2Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA12,828,83713,214,799
1New York City-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA18,897,10919,216,182

10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA (States – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire). Population – 4,552,402

Otherwise known as Greater Boston, it is the metropolitan region of New England encompassing the municipality of Boston, the capital of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and the most populous city in New England, as well as its surrounding areas.

The region forms the northern arc of the US northeast megalopolis and as such, Greater Boston can be described either as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or as a broader combined statistical area (CSA). It is Ranked 10th on the list of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Greater Boston is the only CSA-form statistical area in New England which crosses into three states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island).

Principal cities include:  Boston, Worcester, Providence, Lowell, Cambridge, Quincy, and Manchester.

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA (State – Georgia). Population – 5,286,728

Atlanta-Sandy Spring also made it to the list of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Metro Atlanta, designated by the United States Office of Management and Budget as the Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Alpharetta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area, is the most populous metro area in the US state of Georgia and the ninth-largest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States.

Georgia is one of the top 10 largest states in the USA by population. Its economic, cultural and demographic center is Atlanta and has an estimated 2019 population of 6,020,364 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2019, the name of the MSA was changed from Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell to Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta.

The metro area forms the core of a broader trading area, the Atlanta–Athens-Clarke–Sandy Springs Combined Statistical Area. The Combined Statistical Area spans up to 39 counties in north Georgia and has an estimated 2017 population of 6,555,956.

By U.S. Census Bureau standards, the population of the Atlanta region spreads across a metropolitan area of 8,376 square miles (21,694 km2) – a land area comparable to that of Massachusetts. 

Because Georgia contains more counties than any other state except Texas, area residents live under a heavily decentralized collection of governments. As of the 2000 census, less than one in ten residents of the metropolitan area lived inside Atlanta city limits.

8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA (State – Florida). Population – 5,564,635

The Miami metropolitan area, also known as the Greater Miami Area, South Florida, or the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area is the 72nd largest metropolitan area in the world and the eighth of all ten largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

Located in southeastern Florida with 5,564,635 inhabitants as of 2010, the Miami metropolitan area is the most populous in Florida and second largest in the southeastern United States. 

The metropolitan area is defined by the Office of Management and Budget as the Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach, FL (MSA), consisting of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the first, second, and third most populous counties in Florida respectively. Its land area is 6,137 sq. mi (15,890 km2).

The three counties together are known as the Greater Miami Area and have principal cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Hialeah, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, and Boca Raton.

Besides its association with the South Florida region, which includes the Everglades and the Florida Keys, it is also synonymous with an area known collectively as the “Gold Coast”.

As of the 2000 census, the urbanized area had a land area of 1,116 square miles (2,890 km2), with a population of 4,919,036, for a population density of 4,407.4 per square mile (1,701.7 per square kilometer).

Miami and Hialeah (the second-largest city in the metropolitan area) had population densities of more than 10,000 per square mile (more than 3,800 per square kilometer). 

7. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA (U.S. state/federal district) Population – 5,649,540

The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area is the metropolitan area centered on Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States.

It is number seven on our list of the largest metropolitan areas in the nation as of 2010. The area includes all of the federal district and parts of the U.S. states of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is part of the larger Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

The Washington D.C. metropolitan area is one of the most educated and most affluent metropolitan areas in the US.

The metro area anchors the southern end of the densely populated Northeast megalopolis with an estimated total population of 6,216,589 as of the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, making it the sixth of the ten largest metropolitan areas in the United States, and the largest metropolitan area in the Census Bureau’s South Atlantic division.

The metropolitan area includes the following principal cities (not all of which are incorporated as cities; one, Arlington, is actually a county, and Bethesda, Reston, and Silver Spring are unincorporated CDPs.)

Principal municipalities are Washington, Arlington, and Alexandria while principal cities include Washington, D.C., Arlington, Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Frederick, Maryland among others.

6. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA (State – Texas). Population – 5,920,416

The Woodlands-Sugar Land, is the sixth-most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States on our list, encompassing nine counties along the Gulf Coast in Southeast Texas.

With a population of 7,066,141 people as of 2019 census estimates, Greater Houston is second-most populous in Texas after the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex and the sixth of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

The approximately 10,000-square-mile (26,000 km2) region centers on Harris County, the third-most populous county in the U.S., which contains the city of Houston — the largest economic and cultural center of the South—with a population of more than 2.3 million.

Greater Houston is part of the Texas Triangle mega-region along with the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, Greater Austin, and Greater San Antonio.

Greater Houston also serves as a major anchor and economic hub for the Gulf Coast. Its Port of Houston is the second-largest port in the United States, the sixteenth largest in the world, and leads the nation in international trade.

A major trade center anchored by the Port of Houston, Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land has the highest trade export value of all metropolitan areas, at over $120 billion in 2018, accounting for 42% of the total exports of Texas. 

As of 2020, Greater Houston is home to the headquarters of 22 Fortune 500 companies. Principal cities Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Baytown, Conroe.

5. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA (States – Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland). Population – 5,965,343

The Delaware Valley is the valley through which the Delaware River flows. By extension, it is commonly used to refer to Greater Philadelphia or the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

The Delaware Valley is coterminous with a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and broader combined statistical area (CSA), and is composed of counties located in Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, Delaware, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The Delaware Valley Metropolitan Area is located in the Northeastern United States and forms part of a larger urbanized area known as the Northeast megalopolis.

Philadelphia is by far the largest municipality in the Delaware Valley, and serves as the region’s major commercial, cultural, and industrial center.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Philadelphia metropolitan area has a gross domestic product of $431 billion, the ninth-largest among U.S. metropolitan areas. 2019 Census Bureau estimates rank the Delaware Valley CSA as the eighth-largest MSA in the United States.

4. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA (State – Texas). Population – 6,366,542

Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington is number four on our list of the top largest metropolitan areas in the United State. State of Texas encompassing 11 counties.

It is the economic and cultural hub of North Texas. Residents of the area also refer to it as DFW (airport code), or the Metroplex.

The Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan statistical area’s population was 7,573,136 according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 population estimates, making it the most populous metropolitan area in both Texas and the Southern United States, the fourth-largest in the U.S. In 2016, the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex ascended to the number one spot in the U.S. in year-over-year population growth.

The metropolitan region’s economy is primarily based on banking, commerce, insurance, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, medical research, transportation and logistics.

In 2016, the metropolitan economy surpassed Houston to become the fourth-largest in the U.S. The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex boasted a GDP of just over $620.6 billion in 2020.

If the Metroplex were a sovereign state, it would have the twentieth largest economy in the world as of 2019. The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex comprises the highest concentration of colleges and universities in Texas.

Principal cities are Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, Garland, Irving, McKinney, Frisco, Denton

3. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA (State – Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin). Population – 9,461,105

The Chicago metropolitan area, or Chicagoland, is the metropolitan area of Chicago and its suburbs, covering 14 counties in the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

With an estimated 2019 CSA population of roughly 9.83 million people and an MSA population of 9.46 million people, it is the third-largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

The Chicago metropolitan area has one of the world’s largest and most diversified economies, with more than six million full and part-time employees, and generating an annual gross regional product (GRP) of $689 billion in 2018. 

The region is home to more than 400 major corporate headquarters, including 31 in the Fortune 500. For six consecutive years, Chicagoland was ranked the nation’s top metropolitan area for corporate relocations. 

The Chicago area is home to a number of the nation’s leading universities including The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, and Loyola University.

2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA (State – California). Population – 12,828,837

The Los Angeles metropolitan area, also known as Metropolitan Los Angeles, Metro LA, or the Southland, is the 18th largest metropolitan area in the world and the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States. It is entirely within Southern California.

The metropolitan area is defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget as the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), consisting of Los Angeles and Orange counties, a metropolitan statistical area used for statistical purposes by the United States Census Bureau and other agencies. 

Its land area is 4,850 sq. mi (12,562 km2) and its estimated 2016 population was 13,310,447 (a 3.75 percent increase over the official 2010 US Census population of 12,828,837).

Los Angeles and Orange counties are the first- and third-most populous counties in California respectively, and Los Angeles, with 9,819,000 people in 2010, is the most populous county in the United States.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is the most populous metropolitan area in the western United States and the largest in the area in the United States.

1. New York City-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA (States – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania). Population – 18,897,109

The New York metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass, at 3,450.2 sq mi (8,936 km2). It takes the top spot on the list of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, and of course, the most populous.

The metropolitan area includes New York City (the most populous city in the United States), Long Island, and the Mid and Lower Hudson Valley in New York State; the five largest cities in New Jersey: Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Edison, and their vicinities; and six of the seven largest cities in Connecticut: Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, and Danbury, and their vicinities.

The New York metropolitan area is part of the larger Northeast Megalopolis.

The MSA definition is titled the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and includes a population of 20.3 million people by 2017 Census estimates, roughly 1 in 16 Americans and nearly 7 million more than the second-place Los Angeles metropolitan area in the United States. 

Summary of the Largest Metropolitan Areas In The United States

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts official census counts every ten years, and regularly releases population estimates for consolidated metropolitan statistical areas (CMSAs), metropolitan statistical areas, and primary metropolitan areas.

CMSAs are urban areas (such as one or more counties) with a city of more than 50,000 and its surrounding suburbs.

The area needs to have a combined population of at least 100,000. The suburbs need to be economically and socially integrated with the core city, in most cases by a high level of residents commuting into the core city, and the area needs to have a specific percentage of the urban population or population density.

According to the world population review, the census showed the above as the most populous cities in the U.S. while we wait for an updated figure for Metropolitan population:

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1 Comment

  1. It is interesting to learn about developed cities here with New York being the largest and most populated one among those written here. This is so impressive and I wonder how these places develop their metropolitan districts and make them function to promote their economical prosperity. This is really interesting and I hope there are websites out there that discuss about metro areas in detail.

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